Defining a generation by the events that inspire art and activism.



Ron Brodie on "America Now" & 100 Days of Trump

As Trump closes in on his first 100 days in office, twin brothers Don and Ron Brodie (alongside partners James Schieberl, Vega Teknique, and Korina Emmerich) felt a reflection was in order: one that was both artistic and activist in nature. Enter “America Now“, which, on the heels of Brodie’s “January 29th – A Retrospective” documentary (which documented Trump’s inauguration in all it’s brutal, divisive glory) is poised to continue the conversation—namely, what’s next?

A visual discussion centered on Trump’s first 100 days, “America Now” is bringing together over 50 artists and filmmakers, fostering open-mindedness and fruitful conversation. Sold? Time to get there, stat. The exhibit opens today and runs through the weekend at Salt Studios in Brooklyn, New York.  

What was the catalyst for creating “America Now”?

I took a road trip to Washington, D.C. with my brother Don and three other photographers to cover Donald Trump’s inauguration. Having attended several inaugurations in the past, I kinda expected a spectacle, so I brought my camera. The temperature between supporters on the mall and protestors beyond the checkpoints boiled over as chaos ensued. Even within the comforts of my East Coast bubble, it was very apparent that the nation was divided. There were many emotional takeaways that day, but one of the things that we found interesting was the abundance of emotive art created by thousands of protestors and supporters alike. Although the vibe was very serious, aA mix of colorful posters, elaborate costumes, and even theatrical displays made the whole experience strangely resemble some sort of weird musical festival.

Prior to January 29, we felt inspired by the creative use of art generated to express a diverse pool of beliefs and feelings on the election. We thought it would be amazing to curate an exhibit that features some of what we witnessed on the 29, and well as other forms of media that had been circulating leading up to that day. Me and my partners Don Brodie, James Schieberl, Vega Teknique, and Korina Emmerich felt that this sort of exhibit could serve as a retrospective discussion at the 100th day of Trump’s presidency.

What do you think the role of artists is in this Trump era?

Art has always been one of the many tools used to record and share history. It can communicate an artist’s perspective during a particular period, and many others can relate. Whether it’s in motion, on canvas, or even on Instagram we are seeing a lot more artwork being generated that relates to social and political topics, and people are sharing this media without even realizing that they are sharing stories and documenting history. In observation on what’s out there, I think it’s kinda crazy that we can feel a collective sadness, while simultaneously getting a good laugh at Trump’s expense. The events that inspire art can define a generation.

Do you feel that people with a platform, such as artists, have an obligation to speak out on the side of justice? 

Yes and No. I feel like it’s important for justice to have a platform to be shared, at the same time I think people should be able to decide what they feel is justice to them. Hopefully, above all, there are more open minds. No matter the intention, art will always possess a bit of subjective bias by the artist, and if an artist decides to speak out they should be willing to deal with different opinions. It might be up to society to figure out whether or not it’s worthy of discussion.

Prior to “America Now” you filmed “January 29th – A Retrospective”. How are the two connected, if at all?

The day I shared the film with Don, we spawned the idea for “America Now”. In the film, I’ve interviewed a variety of people with unique perspectives on Trump (supporters, neutrals, and opposition alike). While filming I tried to stay as unbiased as possible to allow the interviewee an authentic window into their minds. The exhibit is designed to possess the same qualities of the film by providing a look at both perspectives, while hopefully bridging the divided between American society known as Trump’s America.

What do you hope to evoke in the people visiting “America Now”? What kinds of conversations do you hope will be had because of this exhibit?

The purpose is to promote discussions among attendees that can inspire awareness, provide retrospective thought, support protest, and promote an active stance for accountability. I hope people feel inspired, and that they will take artwork more seriously. Perhaps they will feel empowered to speak out if they feel something is not right, and know they mean to share their ideas in many ways. I’d also like for people who have lost friends or family over politics to rediscover their communities. Maybe by viewing art, they can learn not to take differences of opinions so seriously that it cost relationships. 

After “America Now”, what’s next for you? How do you plan to continue the discussion?

I will continue to making films and linking up with others creatives in the “yes and” community. This experience has been amazing mostly on behalf of those who I am working with. A special shout out to the contributing artist, as well as my partners Don Brodie, James Schieberl, Vega Teknique, and Korina Emmerich, and a massive thanks to our sponsors: Salt Studios, The Twenty, 11th St Workshop, First Hold, Daddy Magazine, Old Blue Last, and Art_report. We’ve discussed continuing this style of visual discussion again in the future. Possibly in the next 100 days.

Featured image courtesy of Ron Brodie

Stay tuned to Milk for more on activism in the era of Trump.

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