San Antonio artist Vincent Valdez’s 30-foot wide by 6-foot high painting-in-progress is big enough to catch anyone’s eye. But it’s the subject matter and not the size of his prescient installation that is garnering national attention. In the large scale painting, roughly 10 Ku Klux Klan members can be seen doing everyday things, like checking out an iPhone or holding a baby. The piece, titled “The City,” couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. As many worry about what a future with Donald Trump leading the United States would look like, the presidential candidate (who started off his campaign by calling Mexicans rapists and murderers) has essentially given bigots the permission to act on their worst instincts.
Along the campaign trail, there have been plenty of reports of Trump supporters kicking out and ganging up on people of color. Meanwhile, the KKK has thrown its support behind Trump. “As far as I’m concerned, Donald Trump is the pick of the litter,” said Thomas Robb, according to Raw Story. “…We’re concerned about the demographic shift occurring in this country. We see a nation that is going to be less than 50 percent white in less than 20 years. Culturally and morally and spiritually, we’re already a huge minority.”
In November – months before the primaries began – Valdez had no way of knowing how big a role white supremacy would play in the 2016 election, The New York Times reports. He is working to get his piece done by September 9 when it will be displayed at the David Shelton Gallery in Houston.
This piece is inspired by musician Gil Scott-Heron and Philip Guston, an artist who used to paint cartoonish figures that vaguely looked like hooded Klansmen. “It’s almost too predictable, too easy, to portray these very menacing, overly aggressive, these guys who are snooping around, up to no good,” Valdez told the NYT. “I was much more curious about presenting them as, underneath those hoods, they’re everyday Americans, working jobs, picking up their kids from school, paying their taxes. Just hanging out, like most families would do on a Sunday.”
Of course, once they put their masks on, it’s a completely different story – but what that means is up to interpretation. Check out the full story at the New York Times.