Midterm elections historically draw poor turnout. The last time, in 2014, only 36.4 percent of eligible voters participated in the election, which elected one-third of all U.S. senators and all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Featuring works by 10 local artists, the exhibition, To the Polls, aims to encourage civic participation and excite the Philadelphians to get out and vote. It opens Sept. 26, two weeks before voter registration closes for the midterms. It will be on display in a warehouse at 448 N. 10th St. from noon to 5 p.m. daily (excluding Sept. 29) until Oct. 3.
"I don't think Trump's messages reflect the spirit and values of the country, especially those of the Philadelphia community," says Benner. "I keep seeing polls, with both Democrats and Republicans, that show the majority of our country agrees on a lot of issues, from gun control to funding better health care, but our government doesn't mirror this. When only half of the country is voting, and only 20-some percent are voting for Trump, is that a true reflection of our country?"
Benner wants to know what would happen if everyone participated and hopes that, at the very least, this collection of art will inspire a few more people to get involved.
Artists taking part in the project include Loveis Wise, a University of the Arts graduate who recently illustrated a New Yorker cover; Wit López, Willis "Nomo" Humphrey, Nilé Livingston, Marisa Velázquez-Rivas, and others who have used their works to promote activism, empowerment, and engagement.
Each has been asked to create an 8×8-foot temporary mural intended to rally people to vote and also to explore the complex issues Philadelphians face today.
Visitors are encouraged to show up with friends and/or family and use the art to spur conversation and capture photos to energize others across the country. An official opening party will be held from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 26 , and a free panel discussion with Benner is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, Oct. 1.