Between February 7th and February 23rd, local artist and associate director of Minnesota State University, Mankato’s Student Activities office, Greg Wilkins, displayed a monumental artwork at the Carnegie Art Center in downtown Mankato, Minnesota.
This artwork was in several parts, however the keystones of it were a fabric cross draped down from the ceiling with mass shooting locations and casualty statistics embroidered into it, and the several meter Donald Trump face painted on plastic wrap stretched between two pillars. The piece, labeled thoughts and prayers, was an interactive work that invited viewers to partake in the art experience, whilst provoking the viewer to consider the state of mass shootings in the United States.
In the 16 days the piece was up, it constantly evolved as more and more people engage with it, adding their own touches. By the end, the Donald Trump face was covered in anything and everything from slogans to obscenities, mustaches to genitalia, and originating from members of both sides of the political spectrum.
When asked about the purpose of “Thoughts and Prayers” and the political implications behind a giant Trump head, Mr. Wilkins replied that “Often people don’t realize that all art is political, and even if it is just a flower vase, it is still making a statement, and maybe that statement is just I like flowers. The personal is the political, and you cannot escape from it. That has happened throughout history, with regards to works of art.”
He mentioned an instance where an individual was watching as the project was set up, saw a cross and a large, demigod like Trump face and thought, due to their own preconceived notions, that it was a pro Trump event. Mr. Wilkins assured them that it was neither pro nor anti Trump in nature and was only meant to provoke thought.
When asked about the local student community, and their role in the world of art. He said that we are all “in a community, we are all a part of community, and with that we are all a part of democracy” while reaffirming “the power of one, one person can make a difference, and that difference can be if someone goes to the polls or not.”
Header photo by Kieran Kuehn/MSU Reporter.