“I go to Instagram to see cool LEGO pics, NOT to hear your warped political views.”
This is one of the comments I received last weekend in an exchange comparing the former and current presidents of the United States.
I’m not going to lie. As much as I want to stand strong and use my art to speak up for what I think is right, comments like the one above are discouraging, to say the least. And that’s one of the more polite remarks.
I used to be someone who wasn’t “into politics” at all, namely because it seemed like my life was “pretty OK” and unaffected by it. As with many others in the U.S., the recent presidential election has been a huge wake-up call, and I realize now how much I’ve been taking my rights for granted.
Whatever your beliefs are, it can’t be denied that this country is being upended, drastically and rapidly. Personally, I cannot stand behind an administration that seeks to create more injustices against the environment and the people of this and other nations around the world.
So I resist.
One of my forms of resistance is through toy photography. Anyone who’s been following me on Instagram knows that my posts range from completely whimsical to incredibly personal. Sometimes they may cross into controversial or political territory in order for my story to be told.
They may include characters or messages that make viewers uncomfortable, and they will most likely include characters who are underrepresented in society, and who help me celebrate diversity.
Finding a visual voice through toy photography has been empowering. No matter how many negative comments my work may incite, there is an overwhelmingly positive response which inspires me to keep fighting. It also tells me I’m not alone in this.
We have a long way to go before equality for all is achieved, but I know that every step forward makes a difference, even a LEGO mini figure’s tiny stride.
Thanks for marching along with me.
These are great. Share your truth, no matter what others say. I’ve been considering some politically focused toy images myself. Glad to see I won’t be alone in the creation of them.
Thank you so much Jennifer! Glad I could inspire another artist. YOUR work is amazing! I only have time for a glance tonight, but I’ll be diving in soon.
I stand beside you and walk alone with you…
Your work are so inspiring, beautiful and full of great story telling. They say so much about you, and how you are and how I see you…
Thank you Leila for sharing these amazing images. And thank you for standing up for every persons right to get respect!
Aw thank you Kristina! It was amazing to see images of people coming together all over the world that day. I guess that’s one good thing that has come out of all of this!
Leila, this series of posts were inspiring. Thank you for sharing them.
Of course there was bound to be negative comments, unfortunately. Opening up the opportunity for debate, making people think and question, and putting yourself out there to have your “warped political views” questioned, is what I admired and respected so.
Again, thank you.
Thank you Brett. Even though I expect negative comments when I post stuff like this, it still hurts to receive them. I chose to engage with a few this time, because it was so hard to not say something back! But I was also genuinely curious what else they had to say, especially the young kids. It’s pretty terrifying the responses I got. Troublesome that they are part of the next generation.
Leila, Thank you for sharing your thoughts and images here on the blog. Your work is powerful and I hope more people will be inspired to join you. These images have the power to begin a conversation, to help us see both sides of the issues, to realize our friends are the ‘other’. Thank you for being a leader, we will always stand with you. Shelly
Thank you again, Shelly, for asking me to contribute. I’m just going to keep speaking my truth and hope good things follow. 🙂
Controversy… hell, that’s what art is for! Well in part. I stand with and for every citizen of the Earth to engage in their pursuit of happiness, where that pursuit does not encroach upon the happiness of another.
And those who would suggest that the resistance rising is causing distress to the top end of town should understand that they at the top are pursuing money and not happiness and the two are not equitable.
Keep up the fight in the US, the rest of the world stands with you, well not our Australian government, they are spineless… they won’t condemn anything less they lose their friends in high places. But the people of Australia are letting them know about it.
Ultimately, it’s your art, it’s your expression of freedom and of support for your home nation… I stand with you in your art and I love the work you’re doing.
Thank you so much for the support from Down Under! It’s been amazing seeing so many other nations resist too! I truly hope this menace can be stopped and we can restore what once was. It wasn’t perfect, but I am confident now that we’re all fired up enough to fight for true equality like we’ve never seen before.
Change comes when there is friction and debate – thank you for these inspiring images and your commitment to fighting against those who seek to obliterate the rights of others and dismantle the basis of our democracy. It’s so important!
Thank you Jana! Doing my part!!
Leila: I admire your art and your courage. I would like to remind you that, those you choose to have around you (including those who have supported you in the comments above) are the important voices.
It’s very easy for people to hide behind their keyboard and dodgy e-mail accounts whilst spouting malicious tripe. I am guessing you are a clever person, so you only need to listen to clever argument. Don’t let banal comments from trolls and simpletons get you down, and continue saying what you need to say.
Thank you Tony. It doesn’t help that I often keep my heart on my sleeve, haha! I should learn to tuck it away sometimes. I was hopeful that I could have a decent exchange with some commenters about our different views, but alas, it seems pointless. I find it very troublesome that the most vicious comments came from very young kids. Just wow. Here’s to a brighter future where kindness reigns. Someday!
Your photo series for the women’s march was awesome, funny, poignant, and uplifting all at once. I couldn’t help but smile while scrolling through them. Thank you for that.
I find myself wanting, no, needing to do more political shots now. Dissent is American. And art helps.
Thanks for the sweet feedback Julie! I had a wonderful time setting up each shot and picking out who was going to hold which sign, etc. I actually had a lot more planned but ran out of time. But I’m satisfied with the little series I ended up with.
I love hearing that you’re inspired to take on some political artwork too, and I especially love hearing that these images made you smile. It’s been tough to do that lately.
BTW: I think I saw brett_wilson in the crowd 😉
a) These photos are awesome.
b) Keep doing what you’re doing! Your voice is yours alone, and expressing it is part of being an aware, involved, engaged human. And if it makes some people uncomfortable, you hit a nerve. Good or bad, you’re making people think.
Thanks Ryan! And thanks for the continued reminder of our humanness. One can only hope that some day all humans will be treated equally.