In Fall 2018, the Midterm Elections were looming large and the reality of voter apathy could not continue. What could an art museum do? Art museums can do a lot for community in ways that offer new approaches and ideas for civic engagement.
In August, ICA LA became a place where one could register to vote. Our staff was trained so we could offer the unique opportunity to visit a museum and get registered.
In September, a Special Project was developed with artist Brendan Fowler to bring his brand Election Reform! to ICA LA in the form of a store and public programming space for the Fall season. It was important to plan to something specifically on Election Day November 6, 2019. Election Reform! Store opened and, throughout its run, it involved local and national artists, musicians, and designers to collaborate in a uniquely conceptual hub of social activity around fashion, politics, and community. Special edition Election Reform! apparel was made with such amazing partners as Denim Tears, Shaniqwa Jarvis, Awake NY, Please and Thank You, Online Ceramics, ULTRAOLIVE, and the ICA LA.
The shop’s layout was conceived by Fowler as an installation featuring his sculptural and modular furniture elements transformable into clothing racks, shop tables, or benches for the public. The programs were developed with the goal of maximum participation for all ages with particular attention to the young following of the participating brands to engage for the Midterm Elections. #VotingisCool is the message.
During the project, the Election Reform! Store was where two major t-shirt giveaways; a community nourishment event; and a showcase of local designers.
On Midterm Election Day November 6, 2018, a limited-edition design was dropped at the ICA LA and 6 arts institutions across the nation to get out the vote. Over 800 shirts were given away to those who voted. Voters then enjoyed a night of awesome civic action with artists, designers, and djs at the ICA LA. The shirt was created in collaboration with Denim Tears, Online Ceramics, and Public Fiction. Special thanks to Online Ceramics and Lauren Mackler for help with the national outreach to other arts organizations to also giveaway t-shirts on Election Day. These partners included Ballroom Marfa; Austin Visual Arts Center; ICA Boston; UC Irvine, Wassaic Project NY; and Atlanta Contemporary. At the ICA LA, an election night viewing party combined an opportunity to celebrate voting for an important election; a love of limited edition artist-made t-shirts; amazing music spun by Venus X, Asmara, Acyde, and Brendan Fowler; a taco truck; and the chance to view all of the current exhibitions at ICA LA featuring Adrian Piper, B. Wurtz, and Nina Chanel Abney.