It’s clear Kate Kretz is on a mission to generate attention and create a reaction to her views on President Trump and conservatives in general. Facebook censors decided her images of MAGA swastikas, MAGA KKK hoods, and other “pieces of art” were worthy of their response as they banned her from Facebook and closed her account for “violating community standards.”
The Maryland artist’s racket involves tearing up MAGA hats and reusing them to make polarizing items she says are expressions of artwork.
Her Twitter tagline reads, “artist, endlessly perfecting the gorgeous gut punch.”
“The armband is actually titled, ‘Only the Terrorized Own the Right to Name Symbols of Terror,’ and so if people are afraid of people that are walking around with MAGA hats, because they’re afraid of violence,” Kretz said, talking with a WUSA9 reporter. “It’s not really up to the wearer to say ‘oh you shouldn’t feel afraid of me.'”
Video by WUSA9
In another interview, Kretz told KTVU that she used her Facebook page to sell her art and provide an income as well as to maintain contacts for art shows.
“I understand doing things for the greater good. However, I think artists are a big part of Facebook’s content providers, and they owe us a fair hearing,” said Kretz.
Reassuringly, Kretz said she only buys “knock-off” MAGA hats that are the same texture and color so she is not directly funding the Trump campaign. “I wanted to make sure I wasn’t putting any money in [his] pocket,” she said.
In a lengthy, self-aggrandizing blog post Kretz this week, she talks about how she is “perpetually hovering on the edge of my ‘big break,'” and that the Facebook banning is a big blow to her ability to make a living and an injustice, blah, blah, blah.
As artists look for new paradigms to cultivate audiences for our work, we gravitate towards platforms like Facebook. Many artists are introverts, or suffer from social anxiety. For them, social media is a godsend, because they can share what they make without awkward personal interactions and dreaded small talk. (Someone like Van Gogh, for example, would have loved it.) I’m an artist living outside of NYC, with a teaching job, a compulsive studio practice, and a child, so I rarely have time to socialize.
She tells of how, 20-some years into her art career, she suddenly shifted her focus to political subject matter.
Patting herself on the back, she wrote, “My practice is now devoted to calling out injustices against disparate parts of our community, investigating overlaps to suggest that, although the victims may change, the perpetrators are often the same. I have named the ongoing series “#bullyculture”, because I believe that the U.S. cultivates aggression and entitlement in a myriad of ways, both overt and subtle. Much of the work in this series foreshadowed both the 2016 election and the #metoo movement by several years.”
In the end, it’s clear Kretz is as much about stirring up controversy and stoking anger and fear through her work. “The series is difficult and provocative: it requires warning signs when exhibited,” she wrote.
“Early work on the fetishization of guns resulted in threats to me and my family. Some have said or implied that I am ‘asking for’ whatever happens to me as a result of making this series. In response, I maintain that 1.) I have never heard anyone tell a male artist that he was ‘asking for it’ (that term is, after all, the language of abuse), and, 2.) none of the art I have produced is more disturbing than the things happening in real life that inspired me to make the work. I am simply embroidering, burning wood, drawing or painting… not hurting humans, animals, or the earth, like the perpetrators featured in my work. Get outraged at the injustice, not the art calling it to light.”