“I love the First Amendment,” President Donald Trump proclaimed on Friday at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference. “Nobody loves it better than me,” he added.
The effusive remark comes from the same person who called venerable media outlets like The New York Times and NBC News ― long considered pillars of the same free press protected by the First Amendment ― “the enemy of the American people.” Other phrases he and his staff have used to describe journalists prone to criticizing his administration: “out of control,” “opposition party,” “dishonest” and “fake news.”
Weeks before Trump’s CPAC speech, curators at Ground Floor Gallery in New York City ― a space dedicated to emerging artists ― decided it was time for genuine First Amendment defenders to speak out. They began soliciting artwork for a show they called “Marked Urgent,” inviting artists to submit work “associated with any and all types of correspondence and communication.”
“Now, more than ever, we need to empower journalists to hold our government accountable and to provide us with the facts we need to remain informed and involved citizens,” the gallery wrote online. “As passionate arts professionals vested in critical thought and freedom of expression, we feel compelled to respond.”
“Marked Urgent” opened on Friday, Feb. 24, the same day Trump chastised news outlets for using anonymous sources, despite having used them himself to make claims that have been proven false. The pieces on view at Ground Floor are on sale for $75, $25 of which will be donated to the Committee to Protect Journalists, “an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide” and defends “the right of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal.”
“We were thrilled that our artist network was just as enthusiastic about this concept as we were,” Ground Floor co-founders Krista Saunders Scenna and Jill Benson told The Huffington Post.
“We received over 70 submissions in just under three weeks and selected 39 artists for the show,” they added. “With submissions ranging from embroidered newsprint to collaged envelopes and sculpted stationery, the work is as inventive as it is topical. All in all, it’s been an incredibly empowering show to organize and gratifying to know we can help an organization doing such important work every day.”
“Marked Urgent” will run through Sunday, Feb. 26. To see a full list of the participating artists, head to Ground Floor’s website here.