The Art of Politics

Benisek v. Lamone by Ann Lewis

While the Supreme Court is deliberating the fate of partisan gerrymandering, artists are depicting the practice as an art form. In her abstract ink drawings, artist Ann Lewis mirrors the actual voter districts to show their randomness. For the uninitiated, partisan gerrymandering is the practice by lawmakers of manipulating the size and shape of electoral districts in order to favor one political party over the other. Its method is akin to baking a cake…a little from here and a little from there.  In her work for ArtsWestchester’s Give Us The Vote exhibition, Lewis copies and enlarges some of the most dramatically designed voter districts to illustrate their unpredictability, and in so doing “calls attention to the creativity of those working hard to disenfranchise voters…These obstacles to fair and free elections are not as obvious as Voter ID laws,” she says, “but can dramatically change the way our country is governed – a way that does not represent the true nature of its citizens.”

“Give Us the Vote” is an exhibition presented by ArtsWestchester in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the law that gave women the right to vote. It opens with a reception at the Mamaroneck Avenue gallery on October 7 and views the suffrage movement through a lens of what has been accomplished and what barriers still exist. What is so timely is that the Supreme Court will be handing down a decision on a case that could upend the current way voter districts are drawn. Artists Lise Prown & Curt Belshe draw on maps and street signage for form and color, as they consider the arbitrariness of computer-drawn voter districts.  These artists quote former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who said that gerrymandering “has created an absurd reality where politicians now pick their voters, instead of the voters picking their politicians.”  It’s a serious exhibition that makes the case that lawmakers can be as creative as artists and visa versa.

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