Published Thursday, September 24, 2020by Ashley Mahoney | The Charlotte Post
Eight Charlotte artists were commissioned by the Joe Biden presidential campaign to create work for his trip to Charlotte.
A series of banners hung overhead in the Boiler Yard at Camp North End during the Democratic presidential nominee’s Black Economic Forum there. The banners read “Camp North End Charlotte N.C. build back better.” They were prepared by: Dammit Wesley (Camp); Jaianna McCants (North); Carla Aaron-Lopez (End); Garrison Gist (Charlotte); Marcus Kiser (N.C.); Makayla Binter (Build); Frankie Zombie (Back) and John Hairston (Better)
Dupp & Swat co-owners Davita and Dion Galloway curated the project.
“The campaign manager reached out to us to make sure that artists were involved in this particular event,” Davita Galloway said. “We wanted to make sure that artists, that their perspective and their voice is amplified.”
Said Dammit Wesley: “It was a dope opportunity to have a presidential nominee hire and pay artists to essentially participate in their campaign the best way they can. I remember when [Barack] Obama ran and Shepard Fairey did the poster, and everybody was so crazy and gung ho about designing things for political figures. I think that’s an important aspect of politics, that is kind of forgotten. Not necessarily things being used as propaganda, but there needs to be visuals attached to these campaigns. It was just dope to be able to be able to make a little bit of iconography, not only for Camp North End, but for Biden and [vice presidential nominee] Kamala Harris.”
Aaron-Lopez sees the current political climate as a mirror of politics in the 1960-70s. Her banner is text-based, befitting her style. She combined lyrics from Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Going On” and James Baldwin’s essay “Politics of Dignity,” which she felt reflects where the nation stands in 2020.
“It was really cool being asked to collaborate with the seven other artists, because collaboration is the name of the game in my world,” Aaron-Lopez said. “I already knew that based on all of us we were definitely going to do our own thing, which I find to something that is indicative of the identity of Charlotte, that we are all individuals here, but when it’s time to show up for Charlotte, people show up.”
For Frankie Zombie, it’s important to be involved in the call to action to vote, with your local community, as well as with local artists.
“I feel like our job is to first and foremost use our voices through our creativity, and to use it in a way of political togetherness, so that we push values and what we really stand for and what we really believe in and also to show the youth that you can definitely use your voice in millions of different ways,” Frankie Zombie said. “Everyone get out and vote. It is not an option. It has never really been an option. So many people have been fighting for decades for this moment where we can really make a difference in our country, and if we all don’t band together for the right things under God than certain things will continue to happen. I’m just humbled to be here, and use my voice through the art, and everyone get out there and vote. That is number one. Vote for someone. Use your voice.”
This year’s national voter registration day was Sept. 22—the fourth Tuesday every September. Binter made sure to incorporate the visual representation of people voting in the letter u in build.
“When I was thinking of the word, I was thinking about the fact that we’re trying to basically restructure how politically we’ve been acting in the United States,” she said. “I thought it would be awesome to showcase that quite literally of just uplifting not only ourselves, but also each other in the process to rebuild ourselves in our nation.”