New York based photographer Olivia Locher as long held an interest in politics. Making her first protest statement at 14 - she flipped off Dick Cheney - her work still explores social issues and failings. Last year her series on inane and bizarre laws, still clinging on to life around America, spawned several viral images, including that ice cream shot that's probably still your phone background.
Since the election of Trump last month, she and he brother Brandon have again gleaned inspiration from the political toils around them. This time they've committed to creating a collection of stylish and poignant protests signs opposing the President Elect. For each day before he takes office in January, the siblings are releasing a design via Instagram. Inspired by the individual signs they've seen daily in their home city, each design is available in a public Dropbox folder for anyone who would like to use it in their own protest efforts. This project in personal and public activism has seen the young creatives not only explore their own convictions, but also where they and their art live within the rich history of protest art. It's also provide a much needed sense of agency and control during an unsettling point in history.
Why did you want to do this series?
I made my first sign, "Pro America Anti Trump" for the NYC protests that assembled directly following the election of Donald Trump. Observing and participating in these marches opened my eyes to the power protest signs can hold. The sign itself is a simple gesture but the moment someone sees it your message can be very clearly understood. My brother Brandon and I are creating 45 signs, and then I photograph each of them in my studio so they can be shared digitally. Each day we are uploading new ones to Dropbox and the full collection will be live before January 20th. We hope likeminded people will find a message they resonate with then download and share a sign. We are also sending all 45 signs to the inauguration with a busload of our friends.
How has it been witnessing all the protests in New York? Do you feel it's given you a different insight into your city, the population or the climate of the country?
What I found the most comforting about participating in the protests was having so many shoulders to lean on. A lot of people in NYC including myself were extremely saddened by the results.
That's a theme in a lot of protest art, the comfort of community. You've been interested in politics since you were a kid, were movement's art part of that?
I never was conscious that I was, but now that I think of it I am. My work has always been politically driven because it's an extension of my own life. Brandon my older brother is six years older than me, so as a child he introduced me to politics. I was 14 when I attended my first protest. I gave Dick Cheney's motorcade the middle finger when he visited my hometown and got on the national news!
Beyond helping people out with some great signs, what do you hope the project achieves?
I'm just excited that they will make an appearance at the inauguration; I am unable to attend so this will be my chance to be there in spirit! It's also an opportunity to express my voice and my concerns. I was raised in a part of Pennsylvania that Trump won in a landslide, a county which normally votes Democratic. I'm most of all extremely sad because Hillary Clinton was overqualified to be our 45th president so much so that she received 2.8 million more votes over Mr. Trump. The job of the protesters has never been more crucial to assure that for future elections the Electoral College dies, allowing every vote to matter. The country is also extremely divided and Trump's administration needs to hear all sides and work to unite the people, they are already proving to do the opposite.
You mentioned before how heartbreaking this election has been for you and so many others. Has this project been cathartic?
It has been but in all honestly it's been more of a rat race. I often fill my plate with over ambitious projects. I didn't realize how much work went into making 45 (hopefully artful) protest signs. My brother and I are splitting the work but it's become a full time job for the two of us to meet our deadline. We are determined to finish and that has been cathartic.
Download all their signs here, new designs are added daily.
Text Wendy Syfret
Images Olivia and Brandon Locher