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Art exhibit created by ASU students and faculty brings voting importance to young voters

"Spin the Vote" art installation looks to motivate students to exercise their right to vote in a fraught political climate

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Voting booths sit in the Spin the Vote Installation in the Harry Wood Gallery on Thursday, Nov. 3, 2022, in Tempe. The installation will be open until Nov. 10.

Between Oct. 31 and Nov. 10, ASU students and faculty are running an art exhibition intended to motivate students to exercise their right to vote. The exhibition, called "Spin the Vote," is created by ArtistsWhoVote, a nonpartisan collective of students, faculty and alumni who use art as a medium to mobilize voter participation.

Spin the Vote was first launched in 2020 with a $10,000 grant from the Center for Artistic Diversity, which funded 12 artistic projects across the country that encouraged mobilization. Abigail Galvin, a recent graduate of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, was one of the students who first launched the project.

"There were fewer points of access to voters and a short amount of time for them," Galvin said. "So we were trying to find ways to make voting places more visible. Things have changed. The way that it's accessed has changed, and most people are actually not aware of that."

Galvin said the group wanted to address those changes and make sure it was talked about. Especially with the young voters that reside at ASU.

The exhibition, located at the Harry Wood Gallery, acts as a gallery and a demonstration campaign, as many pieces of art can be removed and used for political demonstrations. Pieces involve signs in English and Spanish saying "tu voto es poderoso," "just fucken vote," "sigues votando si no votas," "what if your vote was taken away?" and many more.

The gallery also includes representations of ballot boxes that students can stick themselves into and parade around campus in. Students can also take stickers that may describe their emotions toward voting, such as "so sick of this shit, but I voted anyways," "this shit makes me sad, but I voted anyways," and "I feel totally dead inside, but I voted anyways."

READ MORE: These are all of the polling locations on ASU's four campuses

These phrases were gathered from artists' conversations with students on campus to understand their emotions toward voting. Kasey Kutcher, a junior studying gender, women and sexuality studies, who is part of ArtistsWhoVote, said some of the conversations with other students showed that there are those that are still struggling with voting. 

"A lot of people on campus maybe just turned of age or are not yet of age that we talked to," Kutcher said. "So the process of voting seemed very daunting to those who just turned of age."

Kutcher said that interactions with students who just started their voting experience felt "overwhelmed" and were unfamiliar with the process. The students felt it was necessary to wait until they were older or after gaining more information.

Kutcher also found that many students who could vote were still dissuaded from doing so.

"We talked to a lot of people that felt like it was like a scam or it was almost rigged," Kutcher said. "And because it's such a polarizing issue, like even just voting, in general, can seem very polarizing."

Kutcher said conversations with students found many feeling like voting felt "dirty" and "overwhelming" and kept them from following politics in general.

Sabrina Apostol, a senior studying intermediate art and neuroscience and another artist on the project, shared her own struggles with voting and how students could be motivated to vote.

"Not all of us are comfortable with the idea of voting and feel that disenchantment with it," Apostol said. "I think that recognizing how your community is impacted and how you impact your community is a huge part of feeling empowered to vote, even if you're confused or conflicted about it."

Gregory Sale, an associate professor at the Herberger Institute and co-founder of the collective, said projects like "Spin the Vote" can be very impactful in voter mobilization efforts and ArtistsWhoVote will be taking the installation around campus on Election Day.

"We came together to work together collaboratively coming up on the election to encourage young people to vote," Sale said. "And to feel empowered today to recognize and be willing to engage in a conversation about why you would vote or not vote. Some people are frustrated. Some people are conflicted. Some people are ambiguous, but we just wanted to engage in dialogue around it and make it fun."

Spin the Vote will be open until this Thursday, Nov. 10 and will continue to allow visitors to participate and use the signs and costumes.

Edited by Reagan Priest, David Rodish and Luke Chatham.


Reach the reporter at rchatty@asu.edu and follow @rishabchatty on Twitter.

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Rishab ChattyPolitics Reporter

Rishab is a Politics Reporter at the State Press and a junior studying Political Science. He is also an Advocacy Associate with the Crane Center for Mass Atrocity Prevention and an Assistant Editor for the Realist Review.


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