PENSACOLA, Fla. — Since the 2016 election, an art teacher at Pensacola State College has worn his homemade, airbrushed anti-Donald Trump T-shirts around town.
Now Douglas Reiser is taking his peaceful stance against the president a step further by putting those shirts, along with other handcrafted anti-Trump creations, on display in PSC's art department.
Campaign-style shirts slapped with not-so-subtle slogans like "WTF? 2016," "Unapologetic Racist Enabler 2017" and "The Emperor Has No Clothes 2017" line four racks of T-shirts, three to a rack, with small gold plaques hanging in front of each one. Engraved into each plaque are Trump quotes from the past couple of years that Reiser said he has found interesting, particularly "I alone can fix it," a statement Trump made during the 2016 Republican National Convention.
"I left some empty space on each plaque for future inexplicable quotes," Reiser said.
The "I alone can fix it" quote sticks to the wall directly above the racks in big, gold letters, serving as the theme for Reiser's installation, which has been up at the PSC for more than a month and will remain intact until Jan. 12 as part of the Art Faculty and Staff Exhibition.
Reiser said the purpose of his exhibit is two-fold: to promote free speech and to represent the anti-Trump population of Northwest Florida, which he believes to be a minority.
"This is such a Trump-central area, it's so pro-Trump, that I felt like somebody in this area should say, 'Hey, we're not all pro-Trump,'" Reiser said.
To the right of the T-shirt display is Reiser's "free speech zone," featuring a free speech book and unsharpened "free speech pencils." Potential scribblers can sharpen those themselves using a wall-mounted sharpener with the words "resist now" engraved into the front of it.
Reiser welcomes pro or anti-Trump messages in the free speech book.
"This is basically a platform for free speech, for both sides," Reiser said.
Under a cloak of anonymity, people of both political affiliations have already used Reiser's platform. The message "Trump sold us his speech and suckers bought it" shares a page with the message "ANTIFA = ISIS/Nazis."
A sentence on another page reads "the leftists don't know the concept of forgiveness. No wonder they try to make white people feel guilty for things they had nothing to do with in the past."
As of Tuesday, Reiser's book has a metaphorically happy ending, with the last message written preaching tolerance: "You can be liberal and pro gun at the same time, but if we want to avoid confusion, get rid of labels and understand that we are all individuals."
Reiser said his boss at the PSC and the gallery director both encouraged his installation of the exhibit, and he has gotten a mixed reaction from his students.
"It's been mostly positive, but there's definitely been some blowback," Reiser said.
Trump will hold a rally Friday at the Pensacola Bay Center. Despite his personal views on the 45th president, Reiser said he has registered for a ticket to the rally and does not plan to protest.
"I plan on being mostly anonymous other than my T-shirt,” Reiser said. "I want to experience the event. It's a phenomenon."
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