Artist Karen Fiorito knew backlash was bound to come. And it has.
Commissioned by a downtown Phoenix art gallery in January to create a billboard art piece that would comment on President Donald Trump’s administration, Fiorito said what she had in mind was going to stir up a controversy.
“Billboards are perfect because you don’t have to go to a gallery to see it,” she said. “You’re creating a dialogue with the public. You’re reaching people you’d never reach with your artwork.”
The completed billboard, now looming over Grand Avenue and Taylor Street, went up in downtown Phoenix on Friday afternoon amid the Art Detour event. Plastered on one side is a depiction of Trump’s face staring down. The red background is mingled with mushroom-cloud explosions and dollar signs in typography imitating Nazi swastikas.
Stories on the billboard went viral Friday night. The Arizona State University alumnus said she and her husband, who don’t currently live in Arizona, began receiving threats Saturday morning.
“I’ve been called a communist, a Satan worshiper,” she said. “I’ve been told I’m a ‘very, very sick person.’ I’m not sure what that means. I haven’t been answering the phone. My husband has because he’s not afraid to talk to anyone, but he told me he received a couple death threats this morning. … He said, ‘They were coming to get us with their boys.’ “
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