How Photographers Have Responded to Trump’s Administration
June 6, 2018
From Holly Andres’s series, “Monster,” which imagined a Trump-like figure invading the bedroom of the photographer, “my most personal and intimate space,” Andres says.
Zoshia Minto's image from Everyday American Muslim. Ramadan felt heavy with the tragic loss of Nabra Hassanen, a 17-year-old girl, who was brutally killed while returning to nightly prayers at the All Dullles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS) Center in Sterling, VA. Police believe Hassanen was a victim of road rage.
A photograph by Rory Doyle of a cowboy in Cleveland, Mississippi. Doyle, who is based in Cleveland, has contributed to the “Everyday Rural America” Instagram feed, which aims to tell stories from rural areas and amplify the work of local photographers.
Many photographers have reacted to the 2016 presidential election and the new administration’s policies by getting to work. They’ve created personal projects that address issues such as intolerance, racism, misogyny and inequality. PDN spoke with three photographers about the projects they’ve created since the election.
Two photographers—Zoshia Minto and Nicole Craine—have launched new “Everyday” Instagram feeds in response to Trump’s election. Minto’s Everyday American Muslim and Craine’s Everyday Rural America are associated with The Everyday Projects, a photography education non-profit and a constellation of Instagram feeds that combat stereotypes and fill in gaps in media coverage of communities around the world.
Minto started looking at issues in the American Muslim community in early 2015, after three American Muslim college students in North Carolina were murdered by a neighbor. Police suggested the motive was a dispute over parking spaces, but the victims’ families and many others have encouraged prosecutors to pursue the case as a hate crime. Minto, herself an American Muslim, began photographing her family and friends in an effort to offer “a different view” of American Muslims than that presented by the media or in the anti-Muslim rhetoric of politicians. Hostility towards Muslims predated Trump, but his campaign and election “stirred up even more negativity,” Minto says. Shortly after his election, Minto’s friend and mentor Muhammed Muheisen, the co-founder of the Everyday Refugees project, encouraged her to launch Everyday American Muslim.
Drawing on Minto’s own work and the photographs of contributors who are documenting Muslim communities around the country, the feed shows the experiences of American Muslims. Minto wants the feed to illustrate that “there’s no incompatibility between being [both] Muslim and American.” She doesn’t “avoid showing people praying or being in the mosque,” she says, but shows how American Muslims integrate religion into their lives.
Both Muslims and non-Muslims have reacted positively to the project, Minto says. She’s been communicating with one non-Muslim man, for instance, who reached out to thank her for changing his perspective. And Muslims have been willing to participate in the project. “People don’t want to hide [their Muslim identity],” she says. “They want to be able to share who they are, and this is a good way to do it.”
Everyday Rural America founder Nicole Craine spent years before the 2016 election working on “Kin Folk,” her project about her family in rural Alabama. “I saw how little media coverage was really going on in those areas,” she says, an omission that seemed glaring after rural voters helped elect Trump. She also feels that when media does cover rural America, they do so from an outsider perspective. “Just as we see a lot of outsider reporting in communities abroad, we do that even within America,” she says.
In late 2017, Craine launched Everyday Rural America to document rural communities, and to find and promote the work of local photojournalists. She’s slowly built a list of contributors, and has encouraged people to use the hashtag #everdayruralamerica to help spread awareness of the feed. Craine says she’s looking for a mix of portraits and photojournalism; images of breaking news stories such as Hurricane Irma, which she covered last year, and also images that address larger issues such as climate change, pollution, employment and infrastructure. She wants the feed to “give a broader perspective of what we think of when we think about rural America…. The reality is that national media isn’t really on the ground there.”
Craine says viewers of the feed may find that “There’s more that unites us than divides us.”
Holly Andres says her life changed after the 2016 election, and it altered how she approaches her personal work. “My thinking changed overnight,” she says. In her fine-art work, she has always drawn inspiration from her own thoughts and experiences, and Trump’s presidency “seemed hard to ignore.” When Radius Gallery in her hometown, Missoula, Montana, invited her to participate in a show last year, she created “Monster,” which depicts a Trump-like figure rifling through her bedroom.
“I was thinking about my most intimate and personal space, my bedroom, as kind of a proxy for my mind and how this monstrous, uninvited intruder was just upending everything,” Andres recalls. While the work addresses her own anxiety, it’s also a powerful metaphor for the psychological effect of Trump’s misogyny on many American women.
Andres remembers giving a lecture shortly after the election, and that she felt “really removed” from her previous fine-art projects, which tell stories of female adolescence. “It just felt so inconsequential to everything that was happening,” she recalls. “As artists we’re always responding to politics and in explicit or implicit ways,” Andres explains, and creating “Monster” “felt like something I had to do.”