Hillary Clinton’s unused Election Night confetti now part of art exhibition at Anderson Ranch
The Aspen Times
IF YOU GO …
What: ‘And Still I Rise,’ Bunny and Charles Burson
Where: Patton-Malott Gallery, Anderson Ranch Arts Center
When: Through Jan. 15, 2018
How much: Free
More info: www.andersonranch.org
On election night last year, Bunny and Charles Burson were among the Hillary Clinton supporters at the candidate’s party in New York expecting her to “shatter that highest, hardest glass ceiling” and become America’s first woman president.
The confetti loaded into air canons around the Jacob Javits Convention Center, of course, went unused as Donald Trump won the Electoral College and the presidency.
Bunny Burson — an artist and also a longtime Clinton supporter who served as director of the Committee on the Arts and Humanities under Bill Clinton — has transformed 200 pounds of that unused confetti and that night’s devastating loss into “And Still I Rise,” a body of work now on display at Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass Village.
“It was a natural progression when this happened, as sad as it was, to use the confetti to lift people up — including myself,” Bunny Burson said Tuesday night at the exhibition opening. “It was cathartic for me to make the work, and I want young women and girls who see it to be able to do what they dream of doing and break the glass ceiling,”
The confetti works are displayed in the Ranch’s Patton-Malott Gallery, along with Charles Burson’s photography from election night at the Javits Center.
The centerpiece of “And Still I Rise” — which borrows its title from a Maya Angelou poem — is a video work depicting falling confetti, set to the soaring anthem “Quiet,” by the singer-songwriter Milck, which went viral after the national women’s marches in January.
Bunny has also crafted 1,000 snow globes, filled with the confetti, which swirls around engraved metal pieces reading “And Still I Rise” — 120 of them are on sale at the Anderson Ranch show, with proceeds benefiting the nonprofit arts organization (sales of the globes elsewhere will benefit Planned Benefit).
“I didn’t want to make money on this,” she said.
Bunny has also made three pieces titled “It Will Happen,” made from molds of broken glass.
“I think the way Hillary handled all of this loss inspired me,” she said. “The way she spoke to women and young girls about how valuable they are. I feel this is empowering.”
The show also includes three photos by Charles Burson, capturing the hope of the Clinton campaign and the bitter disappointment of its failure. In “That Dream,” he’s photographed an arrow with a “Hillary for…” graphic on it pointing toward Post-It notes left by Clinton supporters. The photo is on a wall next to “That Moment,” which captures the crestfallen faces of Clinton supporters at the Election Night party. Steps away, “The Glass Ceiling” is hung on a platform just above head level, which shows the literal glass ceiling of the Javits Center on Election Night.
The couple has never collaborated on an exhibition before.
This political art project began the morning after the election, when a friend text-messaged Bunny Burson a photo of Clinton campaign workers boxing up unused confetti at the candidate’s would-be victory party.
She knew she had to transform it — and the disappointment of that morning — into something inspiring.
“I started asking around with people in the campaign, ‘What happened to the confetti?’ ” she recalled.
Some said it had been destroyed or lost. But after several weeks of sleuthing, she found that it had been shipped back to a company in Chicago. She called them and asked if she could buy it. She then got to work on a series of artworks making use of the confetti. The first was a large snow globe that she put on display in St. Louis earlier this year.
Reliving the shock of election night 2016 is painful for many. But Burson hopes her confetti works will inspire activists and progressive candidates.
“I’ve had people say, ‘Oh, it’s so sad,’ like they wish I hadn’t done it,” she said. “But there are more who’ve said, ‘This gives me chills and makes me want to go out and do my part.’ ”