Olivia and Brandon Locher, both NYC based artists, collaborated on #45ProtestSigns in honor of the 45th President of these United States, Donald J Trump.
GOOD TROUBLE: As the election results poured in and you realized they were... surprising, how did you react? Did you feel the need to do something active in response?
OLIVIA: I was in total disbelief and heartbroken. I stayed up all night to watch Mr. Trump’s speech, it all felt unreal. The day after the election I was totally paralyzed. For several days I felt this heaviness I’ve never experienced before. I had an immediate urge to go to the protests. I made my first sign, “Pro America Anti Trump” and marched with it to Trump tower. I photographed my sign in my studio and shared it. Then Brandon got the idea to make 45 protest signs. It’s funny because he only made about 5 of them, but he had the grand idea to do it. I was like, oh my God, what did you do in high school group projects?
GOOD TROUBLE: Siblings you are!! Did you grow up in a political household? Were you always interested/active in politics?
OLIVIA: Brandon got into politics when he was in high school during George W. Bush’s presidency. Since we were always close I naturally got interested in politics around the same time. I ended up volunteering with the Democratic party, canvassing and phone banking for John Kerry. I attended my first political protest when I was 13 and flipped off Dick Cheney during his visit to my hometown Johnstown, PA. A teacher told me she saw me on Fox News!!!!
GOOD TROUBLE: You often split your time between Johnstown, a faded steel mill town in western PA, and NYC. Johnstown used to be a Democratic stronghold but it's not so much these days. What have you experienced from each post-election?
OLIVIA: NYC is very positive because everyone I tend to encounter is pretty liberal and open minded. In Johnstown it’s the complete opposite. 95% of the people are die-hard Trump supporters and are eager to call you derogatory names if you try to challenge them. Over the holidays I encountered a lot of Trump supporters, and it’s a really tough thing. Anything he does, no matter how terrible, they support him. You can’t convince them with hard facts that something isn’t real. So much of the 'war' we face moving forward is cultural. It’s obvious that the racial divide is growing stronger. Islamophobia is dead center in the spotlight and sadly people aren’t afraid to express their fears.
GOOD TROUBLE: Some people are comforting themselves after Trump's win by saying, "well at least art will be good..." But this rubbed other folks the wrong way, seeming to disregard the outright terror so many are feeling. Maybe a better approach is that art NEEDS to be good?
OLIVIA: I was disappointed by people saying the art will be good at first. I wanted to shake those people and scream at them. But now I’m seeing that his win has inspired many artists I follow to start making more political work.
GOOD TROUBLE: As an artist, are you hopeful about the role you can play as America navigates so much unpredictability? Can creative types help provide a moral compass? (Do you need one? How are you holding up?)
OLIVIA: I’m totally terrified to be completely honest. It almost feels like right now the people can't do anything that will have an immediate impact. Trump’s point of view is so punishing, and I just think it's going to take time for it to sink in. The Women’s March was such a powerful thing but the day after, Trump’s administration attacked female rights in what seemed like a spiteful rage. I am inspired to personally keep calling out the administration and Trump on things I don’t agree with through my work. I think it’s a natural side effect for creative’s to respond to political unrest through their practices. My work has always been inspired by what’s happening culturally and politically. What impact artists can have, I guess we'll see.
GOOD TROUBLE: You posted pictures of your signs on Instagram and shared them on Dropbox. Why make them downloadable?
OLIVIA: I wanted to make the signs downloadable because I realize the power of social media right now. When you attend a march it’s all about marching in numbers and making a physical presence, but it’s pretty impersonal. On social media you open yourself up to a conversation with your followers. Anytime someone shares something they reach their own unique audience. I became interested in what digital protesting is starting to look like.
GOOD TROUBLE: What's next?
OLIVIA: My project “I Fought the Law,” where I photographed strange and unusual laws for each state in North America, will be released by Chronicle as a hardcover book August 29th of this year! [Follow Olivia on Instagram to see some of these.]
View and download #45ProtestSigns here. There will be plenty of opportunities to use them.
[Brandon didn't respond to multiple requests from Good Trouble because he was busy making homemade Stromboli and 'walking to the incline plane and back' in Johnstown. But Olivia said he did contribute one more sign --> ]
Journalist based in Brooklyn.