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For decades, art has been used as a means of raising sociopolitical awareness. From the Black Arts and Chicano Mural movements of the 1960s and 70s to the “multicultural” boom of the 1990s, art surrounding identity politics has made statements on contentious topics using aesthetics.
Through his own artist-activist endeavor, Azikiwe Mohammed has launched a Kickstarter effort to distribute “Stomp Out I.C.E.” pins to raise funds designated for United States immigration reform and aid.
The enamel pins were designed by Mohammed, an artist who often explores social realities (and fantasies) in his portfolio. He launched the “Stomp Out I.C.E.” fund to produce the badges in protest of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (I.C.E.) and raise money to support victims of the organization.
The profits will be distributed to ActBlue, a grassroots fundraising nonprofit. Their donation model divides contributions among left-leaning organizations and Democratic candidates to give greater power to smaller donators. Mohammed says he chose the organization because he found them a “helpful way to donate responsibly/easily and ensure the money goes to the right channels.”
“The goal of distributing these pins is to continue the conversation about the reprehensible behavior I.C.E. has been engaging in, and once the funds are raised to make these pins, to put some money towards undoing the damage done,” Mohammed told Hyperallergic. “This promises to be a very long process of both reuniting the families and helping these families heal, and it’s going to be expensive.” All proceeds not covering the cost of the pin production will be donated directly to ActBlue.
The image, an industrial boot smashing down on a pile of transparent blue enamel ice, drew inspiration from a popular anti-fascist stencil. Mohammed calls it a “protest image that is simple, well designed [and] thought out and gets the point across to anyone without much further explanation needed. By replacing the Nazi with I.C.E., I hope to have designed something that can address all of these points.”
While some called for wearing safety pins after the 2016 election to establish their political leanings, this pin makes a monetary contribution to the reunification of immigrant families separated by I.C.E., with a more obvious visual message. The artist says he chose the pin as a piece of wearable art that can be worn daily, as opposed to a t-shirt.
In the past, Mohammed has used his artistic practice for fundraising efforts, illustrating greeting cards with the likenesses of Puerto Rican celebrities in the wake of Hurricane Irma, which devastated the island physically and economically. He raised over $1,000 for the crisis.
The pins will be delivered to donators in September 2018, with the Kickstarter ending on August 6. Pledges over $15 will receive one enamel pin, over $35 will receive three, over $50 will receive five, and donations exceeding $100 will receive 10 pins, hand-delivered by the artist anywhere in New York City. The production can only take place if Mohammed meets his $1,950 goal.
Pioneer Books, an independent bookstore in Brooklyn, has joined the effort to distribute pins in the future. The artist says he has spoken with other brick and mortar storefronts about stocking pins after the initial round of orders are sent out to backers.
Learn more about the fundraiser on Kickstarter.