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The last time we sat down with Marilyn Minter, the world was a different place—socially, politically, and environmentally. Although much has changed, she hasn’t. She’s still fighting for equal rights, pushing for a shift in power, and creating artworks that reflect our changing times. She’s still challenging cultural conceptions of the human body; she’s still a spitfire that will give you alternate ideas about what fashion and glamour really is.
Due to the current COVID-19 health crisis, her studio in Manhattan is closed, but that hasn’t stopped her from working in her Cold Spring home. Between walks with her dogs and husband, she’s creating posters for Downtown for Democracy, working on new paintings, and keeping track of a certain villain’s every move on Twitter.
Whitewall caught up with Minter to see how she’s handling isolation amid the global pandemic, and what she’s working on now.
WHITEWALL: How are you doing amid COVID-19?
MARILYN MINTER: I’m healthy and have a lot to be grateful for, but it’s a terrible time for everyone. I feel anxious and fearful just like you. I find it helpful to take it a day at a time and try to get some work done as a respite.
WW: Anything you’re listening to, reading, watching that’s providing inspiration or solace?
MM: Unfortunately, I am a Twitter junkie. It can be challenging to find solace when Twitter is constantly reminding me that our President is a Marvel comic villain. I’m finding it hard to read, but I finished My Dark Vanessa before the quarantine. It’s a clever read. Hard to put down. Taking walks with my dogs and my husband is comforting.
WW: How are you staying connected?
MM: I’ve been meeting with friends and colleagues on Zoom.
WW: Are you able to work during this time? Tell us a bit about some recent works, or what you’re working on now.
MM: Yes, luckily, I am able to work. I’ve been making collages in Photoshop that will be reference images for future paintings. This one, for example, is called Quarantine.
I’m also working on a poster for Downtown for Democracy that says, “For the love of god…ANYONE BUT TRUMP 2020” and making new paintings.
WW: The last time we sat down, our country’s current president had not begun his time in office. Now that we are gearing up for another election, can you give us your thoughts on the past few years of how this time has changed your views personally or professionally?
MM: I could write an essay in response to this, but I can’t do it now. I am exhausted by this President, so I spend 30 to 50 percent of my time trying to get rid of him through political activism.
WW: Let’s talk about that activism. Among many other initiatives, you’ve personally raised millions of dollars for Planned Parenthood, created flags and plaques in response to our administration, and recently partook in an exhibition called “Abortion is Normal” at Arsenal Contemporary. The works are for sale on Artsy, with all proceeds going to Downtown for Democracy. Tell us about that.
MM: “Abortion Is Normal” was an emergency exhibition organized by a collective of cultural practitioners as an urgent call-to-action to raise both awareness and funding in support of accessible, safe, and legal abortion.
The show was a response to legal abortion being under acute attack throughout the United States, with fifty-eight restrictive laws passed in the United States since January 2019 alone. Simultaneously, the 1973 landmark ruling, Roe vs. Wade, which federally sanctions the right to choose, is in jeopardy of being reversed.
It was curated by Jasmine Wahi and Rebecca Pauline Jampol, and co-organized by Gina Nanni, Laurie Simmons, Sandy Tait, and me. We managed to raise over $200,000 through artwork sales. All of the proceeds went to Downtown for Democracy, with the PAC distributing half of proceeds to fund voter education and advocacy specifically on reproductive rights, and half of the funds to Planned Parenthood PAC efforts in upcoming 2020 elections.
WW: Give us your take on the revolution of today. Playboy is now run by more women than men, people are standing up to sexual assault, creators are addressing these themes in their work more than ever… How do you feel women and men are celebrating their individuality in a way that they didn’t before?
MM: I think women and folks across the gender/sexuality spectrum are better able to own their sexual imagery and create images for their own pleasure and amusement. I have always believed this should be the case, and we are slowly getting closer to that reality.