With or Without a Pussyhat

Sundown on the Union, 2017 An Acrylic Painting by Artist Bill Rangel
Sundown on the Union, 2017
31"W x 29 1/2"H acrylic on canvas

Pussyhats were my favorite thing this year, but when I commemorated the Women’s March with this image, I decided to leave them out because I didn’t want them misinterpreted by my overall impressions. Symbols of unity are immensely useful in real life, and the Pussyhat Project brilliantly spotlighted the global outcry, but in artwork, there’s always the dilemma of focus, and here I wanted to emphasize the sense of mourning that, in my view, dominated the protest. Yes, the demonstration was everything it was meant to be, a unified voice of dissent denouncing the rise of Trump and all that he represents. But to me, it was also a funeral for our collective denial - we can no longer pretend that our socioeconomic system is anything more than broken. We packed ourselves like sardines between government and business buildings downtown, and there couldn’t’ve been a more appropriate setting to underscore that prioritizing money, power, and fame is the reason we don't have a sane society. We pride ourselves on being a great country because we’re the richest and we do good things worldwide with our wealth. But we all know that's mostly a lie, and by electing a bold-faced liar to the White House, it unmasks our unwillingness to enact policies to temper the systematic corruption that oppresses us and the rest of the world. Whether we choose to absorb their significance or not, skylines across the globe grow in plain view, and that the price for them is our humanity was the shame beneath the fear that I saw on the faces of the marchers, with or without a pussyhat.

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