While attempting to process the tragedy that happened in Las Vegas in October of 2017, I felt the need to make my voice heard. As I sat at my kitchen table, I remembered I had a single moist towelette in my backpack. I sent it to Paul Ryan with a handwritten card that said, Speaker Ryan, I figured you could use this, what with all the blood on your hands. Do better. xoxo The American People. The project took off once I discovered that: 1. Wholesale moist towelettes are not all that expensive; and 2. They can be purchased from Amazon in one of about three designs — the standard water droplets and name of the product (“moist towelette”), branded with the hygiene company’s logo, and an American flag above the phrase, “United We Stand.” The choice was easy.
On February 21, 2017 I mailed nearly 5,000 moist towelettes to the top 20 NRA funding recipients in Congress as an act of artistic protest — one towelette for every $10,000 each congressperson has accepted since taking office. I implored them to clean the blood from their hands as their complicity in mass violence continues unhindered by pleas from their constituents to pass meaningful gun reform. The packages ranged in size from 4x6x4˝ to 16x16x12˝ and were sent to their constituent services offices in each of their home states.
I am infuriated that our lawmakers, the very people who have the power to help curb this problem, only have thoughts and prayers to offer their constituents in the wake of tragedies such as Las Vegas and Parkland, Florida. Thoughts and prayers are about as effective as laws that require people to shovel their sidewalks.
With 1,624 mass shootings in just 1,870 days, the United States is the only developed country to experience firearm-related violence at such a scale and with this much regularity. As the effects of government negligence and deep-seated corruption continue to tear through American communities with disturbing reliability, I found my voice while advocating for tighter gun regulation through my design practice.
Each of the packages came with a personalized letterpressed form letter which read:
Senator/Representative [Last name],
It is with deep resignation that I present to you [number] NatureHouse Fresh Nap Moist Towelettes — one for every $10,000 you’ve accepted from the N.R.A. during your tenure as an elected official. I wish you the best of luck in the laborious task of cleaning the blood from your hands. These are nowhere near sufficient, but it’s a start.
Your thoughts and prayers aren’t enough. Do better.
Your emblematic constituent,
Thoughts and prayers aren't enough. Our politicians need to do better. If they won’t do something about this humanitarian crisis, we’ll elect people who will.