Artist, Kate Kretz of Mount Rainer, Maryland, uses her artistic abilities to redesign Trump’s “Make America Great Again” hats to create symbols that have long represented hatred and racism.
The purpose of this collection is to show how something as dark as Donald Trump’s presidency can easily become something much darker and threatening.
Kretz says that she ripped apart the hats sewed “them back together into traditional symbols of hatred.” She said her “works are meant to both call out wearers who claim the hats to be innocuous, and to sound the alarm that history is repeating itself.”
“I was thinking about the world my newborn daughter would grow up in. I was overwhelmed by the daily news and was starting to pick up on cultural rumblings all around me that were quite unsettling: that drove me to research and creation at an unprecedented, feverish pitch that continues to this day. 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,” she shares.
When Kretz turned to Facebook to share her work her page was quickly reported for sharing hate speech. Someone viewed her work without looking into what it really symbolized.
Kretz says that her Facebook post was taken down after she shared an image of a Ku Klux Klan hood, she had created using Trump MAGA hats, as well as an armband with a swastika on it. She says that Facebook notified her that her post went against the platform’s standards.
“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. “It’s not really up to the wearer to say ‘oh you shouldn’t feel afraid of me.'”
Kretz uses Facebook to sell her art and maintain her livelihood as well as to keep contacts for her art shows. She says that her work is art and art should not be censored. On May 9, she says that her entire account was disabled.
Kretz has a bachelors of fine arts at Binghamton University and her master’s of fine arts at the University of Georgia. She studied at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France where she received several honors, awards, fellowships, residencies and has been the recipient of arts grants. Her work has been showcased in museum shows across the country and abroad.
“It is important for Artists who we agree or disagree with to be able to show their work. Many make their living via social media platforms. Not only is this an issue of artistic freedom but of livelihood. I understand doing things for the greater good,” Kretz said. “However, I think artists are a big part of Facebook’s content providers, and they owe us a fair hearing.”
Kretz took a stand with Facebook and was able to get her account re-activated on May 26.
Kretz says that she only purchases knock-off MAGA hats that are the same texture and color so she is not directly funding Trump’s campaign.
“I wanted to make sure I wasn’t putting any money in [Trump’s] pocket,” Kretz said.
Kretz states that her art is not hated speech, but instead is intended to be works of art addressing hate speech.
“All of the images from the ongoing MAGA Hat series received an overwhelmingly positive response with thousands of likes and hundreds of comments. Only a few people were offended by their cursory look at the swastika. Many more said that their initial reaction was “WTF?”, then they loved the piece, even more, when they saw what it actually was. One of the “Hate Hats” sold to a prominent collector within days.”
Kretz says that she still has ‘at least three more in-progress pieces to come’ in her MAGA Hat Collection. For more information about the “MAGA Hat Collection” visit Kate Kretz’s Facebook page here.