Why drink coffee out of a boring old cup when you can sip from an artist-designed protest mug?
More than 70 artists, including Faith Ringgold, John Baldessari, and Jenny Holzer, have created buttons, thongs, pins, and t-shirts for a resistance-themed pop-up gift shop at the Brooklyn Museum. The initiative, called Anger Management, is the brainchild of artist Marilyn Minter and art historian Andrianna Campbell.
“I talked to all these artists who were so frustrated about what was going on, and I thought, ‘We can give them an anger management outlet,’” Minter tells artnet News. Almost every artist they approached agreed to participate, she says. “We did it on a swing and a prayer, with no money whatsoever.”
The duo hatched the idea for the project back in February, and planning kicked into high gear this spring with help from Chad Phillips, the Brooklyn Museum’s head of merchandising. The collection debuts at the museum’s gift shop and online Thursday.
The partnership with the Brooklyn Museum posed one significant challenge, Minter says. Because the institution is a nonprofit that must steer clear of political campaigning under US law, none of the artist-designed objects could mention or picture a specific individual (read: Trump).
In the face of this limitation, the artists—unsurprisingly—got creative. Laurie Simmons produced a glittering, handmade thong with the words “Protest” emblazoned on the front. Hank Willis Thomas designed a pin and t-shirt with a twist on the phrase “All Lives Matter” (the “v” is removed so the phrase reads “All Lies Matter”).
Rob Pruitt, meanwhile, contributed beautiful but very depressing wallpaper that features images of polar bears attempting to navigate melting ice caps. Louise Lawler tried out multiple prototypes for wrapping paper before settling on a design emblazoned with the word “unhinged.”
The items range in price from $3 for stickers to tens of thousands of dollars for a rainbow neon by Jonathan Horowitz and a collaborative drawing by Julie Mehretu and Daniel Joseph Martinez. Some of the items were fabricated by the artists themselves; others were produced by the museum’s shop according to the artists’ specifications.
After the Brooklyn Museum takes a 25 percent cut of the proceeds from sales, the remainder will be divided up among the artists and directed to charities of their choosing. Marilyn Minter plans to donate her portion to the American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood.
Both Campbell and Minter hope the model will inspire other similar pop-up shops in cities across the country. “We want these items to circulate, as reminders of hope for various communities,” Campbell says. Minter adds: “Everyone is so frustrated—here is a way to channel that energy.”
Anger Management, a pop-up store at the Brooklyn Museum, is open from September 28 to November 12.
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