Presidential Circus

My initial ideas of this piece were to create some form of a caricature portraying Donald Trump for his true self, which were the ideas of painting Trump as a clown, or creating a series of his infamous red hats that are ’embroidered’ with some of his quotes. Another idea that I had was to create a meaningful series of paintings, from photographs taken at the New School’s student walkout in 2016, only two days after Donald Trump won the election. I ended up going with the Presidential Circus idea, as I felt it was most successful at portraying my initial thought of Trump as a caricature.

The painting ended up being a 4+ week process, and I found the part I struggled most with, after painting the face to look most like Trump, was allowing myself to let my painting style loosen, as I had previously done after creating a ‘replica’ of Alice Neel’s portrait of Andy Warhol, as seen in a previous learning portfolio post. I used this style in the suit, circus tent, and the clown wig. I mostly let my style loosen due to a shortage of time, as I knew I would be unable to do the entire piece realistically in time for the show on May 12. I do feel as though the loosened style was effective, because the parts that I did not realistic were the added ‘caricature’ effects for the piece.

The day of the show I added a water-squirting flower for the piece to be interacted with by the viewer. This piece now being three-dimensional was also something I experimented with earlier in the semester, also in my replica of the Alice Neel piece, and was something I had not previously done for my traditional paintings or portraits. This added a sense of realness for the viewer, but also a fun interaction to an otherwise unsettling piece.


Overall, I am proud of what this piece came to be, and it is my largest piece I have done as of May 2017. I hope in my next few years at Parsons that I am able to experiment more with three-dimensional paintings, as well as discuss politics through my art pieces.

Link to video of painting in ‘action’: IMG_1449-2jrhbxf

Artist Statement:

As a painter, I tend to enjoy using acrylic as my medium as opposed to oil. My painting depicts Donald Trump as a clown due to the White House often referred to as the “circus” by news sources such as CNN. I used Trump’s presidential portrait and replaced the White House with two circus tents so that my concept of the circus comes across clearer. I hope this painting sparks conversation about how politics have been viewed by the media and public since Trump’s inauguration. My 4 week process began as a series of sketches to decide which way I wanted to portray the current president, whether it be through his racist remarks or his lack of credibility. I then began sketching on the canvas before beginning to paint. I decided in the final week that the clown wig and tents would be more abstract, as they were ‘false’ additions to the portrait.

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