“The NRA knows how easy it is to buy a senator,” says Kim Sillen, “So we wanted to offer everyone the same opportunity.”
On Saturday, you’ll be able to do just that, as works from the Senator Portrait Project will be auctioned off at BestWorld Gallery, on the Lower East Side. Among the 50 portraits of representatives who’ve voted against gun control: Micheal Bennet Senator of Colorado who paradoxically supports both marijuana and guns and Senator John McCain anxiously clutching a pair of rifles.
“There are humans who voted to allow children and other Americans to die,” says Sillen.
The Senator Portrait Project began after the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando and will continue, says Sillen, until gun control adequately protects America’s youth. The show comes 25 days after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, which spurred Sillen to put out a call for artists on social media. The response was overwhelming, with over 50 artists across the country contributing works in a variety of mediums. “I’ve never felt more American,” Sillen said.
Sillen’s own activism began with a mural on Houston Street honoring Raphael Sadonte Ward, a 16-year-old Baruch Houses resident who in 2013 was shot and killed for his winter jacket on the Lower East Side.Among those coming together for this exhibition are multimedia artist John Sims; Kate Kretz, known for her human hair embroideries; and Anthony Zito, who will show a portrait of Emma Gonzalez. The portraits can be used as protest signs or as gifts to NRA-supporting relatives, Sillen suggests.
The exhibition comes in the wake of a New York law, signed over the weekend, that requires convicted domestic abusers to surrender all firearms.
Sillen hopes the show will encourage viewers to look into whether their representatives have received money from the NRA. Proceeds from the auction, which runs from 6pm to 9pm on April 7, will support the Parkland Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.