SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Embroidery, installations, graphic design, GIFS, even baked goods--  artists in Sacramento and all over the country have been creating work with a simple, but important message: VOTE.

Michael Stevenson and Monica Roberts set up a reminder for their own neighborhood in the form of an installation. The Sacramento couple upcycled a mailbox to create a simple, yet eye-catching design.

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"My in-laws were going to throw this mailbox away, and I thought, 'wait a minute-- maybe there's something I can do with it," explained Stevenson, a graphic designer and artist.

Stevenson stenciled "VOTE" on both sides of the mailbox and placed it on top of his car that was parked in front of his house. Roberts, who's also an artist, decided to make the public art piece informational.

Credit: Barbara Bingley
Monica Roberts points out the information she added to the car. After the registration deadline, she planned to write out the last day request an absentee voter ballot.

"After he put it up, I thought, 'can we provide more practical information?'" Roberts explained. "So that's when I took the pen to the car to give the first deadline which is when to register: No later than October 19th. And I’ll be changing that as we go forward."

In this election season and in the middle of a pandemic, Stevenson and Roberts said, while normal forms of interacting are disrupted, art is a form of communication.

"We can't be as engaged in a face-to-face way in talking to people about the importance of voting," Roberts explained. "This is one way to remind people on a daily basis to vote."

Artists all over the U.S. have taken on similar tasks in public settings and social media. There is even a website and Instagram account, Voting Art, that's dedicated to sharing "non-partisan art intended to help spread the vote." The site highlights artists and their work that encourages voting. 

The website states the instructions: "Use this art to spread the message and encourage everyone to exercise the most powerful non-violent change agents we have: to VOTE." 

Work featured on Voting Art included a photo of a pie with dough letters that spelled "vote," a piece by Erin Elizabeth Porter, a photographer and artist in Austin, Texas. Another piece by @thebarefootgardner from Raleigh, North Carolina showed the four-letter verb spelled out in an arrangement of flowers. 

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When asked about art messaging and the many ways artists had been displaying work that urged voting, Stevenson said repetition is powerful.

"Sooner or later it's going to resonate with somebody, saying, 'OK, I saw it this way and it was really powerful for me,' or, 'this was really informative,'" Stevenson explained. "If you say it over and over and over again, eventually someone’s going to say, ‘that’s not a bad idea.’"

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