Death threats do not deter artist behind controversial Trump billboardPosted: Updated:
Even though she is getting death threats, the artist behind a bold and controversial billboard that is decidedly critical of President Donald Trump is not backing down.
The Phoenix billboard features Trump’s face flanked by mushroom clouds and dollar signs evocative of swastikas. Right down to the Russian flag lapel pin Trump is sporting, artist Karen Fiorito’s message is not subtle and it’s shocking people not just here, but all over the world.
Reactions, naturally, are mixed.
One woman described the billboard on Grand Avenue between 10th and 11th avenues (Fillmore and Taylor streets) as “a horrible thing for people just to see in general.”
Another said she liked Fiorito’s creation but would have preferred it to be smaller, “not so much in everyone’s face.”
"As long as his tweets are going out to millions of people, how do you fight back?" asked a third.
Fiorito, who is based in Los Angeles, said she often uses her paint for politics.
"There are people who say, ‘Well, it's offensive,’ but the current administration, its policies, the people that are put in power are offensive to me,” she said unapologetically.
Fiorito, whose Twitter handle is @buddhacatpress, tweeted an image of what the billboard would look like on March 1 with the hashtags #WorkInProgess and #ComingSoon, among others.
She said the sign, which went up Friday, represents politics and money, dictatorship, the destruction of our planet and more.
It seems to silently scream, "The apocalypse is nigh!" Or maybe it's not so silently. The imagery Fiorito chose is loud and clear. She is not a fan of our 45th president and she's not afraid to show it.
[T]he current administration, its policies, the people that are put in power are offensive to me.
The outspoken artist said her email inbox and social media accounts were flooded with comments – good and bad – Saturday morning, less than 24 hours after the billboard was put in place.
Among those negative responses? Death threats.
"They want me to be so scared that I fear for my life, that I take the billboard down, that I don't say anything again,” she said. “That's not going to happen."
"If you're going to speak out and speak truth to power, you can have a backlash,” she said.
And that she certainly has.
"I think it's a bad idea and is dividing the people,” one man said of the billboard, which is owned by Beatrice Moore a friend of Fiorito's.
Moore and Fiorito go way back.
"I worked with Karen Fiorito over 10 years ago, and she created the anti-Bush W billboard for this site then," Moore posted on her Facebook page Friday. "Deciding we needed an anti-Trump billboard, I contacted Karen and hired her to design the current signage for the billboard, which we had printed and installed."
Moore, who is managing director of both the Grand Avenue Festival and Grand Avenue Arts & Preservation, said owning the billboard "gives us more freedom to host controversial projects on it."
But it’s not just the front of the sign that Fiorito, who received her MFA in printmaking from Arizona State University, wants people to see. There’s another part, a message on the back. It’s the word unity in sign language.
She plans to keep the piece up for at least a year, if not through the end of Trump's presidency.
"Taking a break from social media and the news for personal reasons. More soon," Fiorito posted on Facebook page Monday.
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