72. Sally Stein: MAHA (Make America Hopeful Again)
August 17-September 30, 2020
As the 2020 U.S. national elections approach, PROXY Gallery is pleased to present not MAGA, but MAHA by Sally Stein.
This is the second work Stein has made for presentation by PROXY, the first being LEGOzymandias in 2017. Judging from these two works, it is clear tht Stein is inclined to ignore the “less is more” modernist mantra and go for more. Indeed, in MAHA she may have jammed more stuff than we have ever seen filling our small space. (Stein admits that her housekeeping is for better or worse rather consistent in its let-it-pile-up so-called aesthetic.)
It was shortly after LEGOzymandias, her first shot to mock Trump’s fetish of a border wall, that Stein asked if she might have another shot at a PROXY exhibition around the time of the fall 2020 election; she thought it important to use the micro gallery at Otis and online to make a timely reminder to all eligible students to remember to register to vote and then cast a ballot. But that was years ago, in another pre-pandemic era when Otis students would regularly encounter the changing exhibitions of PROXY. As she now recalls two months later, this was in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd at the hands of the police, and while she wanted to join protests, the fact that she was poised to turn 71 and had some chronic health problems kept her home. So she explains she used this project as a kind of “dollhouse activism” - especially as the continuing protests were then followed by the death of historic civil rights leader John Lewis (1940-2020) with all the attendant tributes to his lifelong social commitments in the streets and for the last decades as the Conscience of the U.S. Congress to push to the fore “Good Trouble, Necessary Trouble.”
Given those recent events plus the toppling of various public statues of white supremacists, key elements soon seemed indispensable like a truly iconic old photo of the young protesters for voter rights in Selma, a photo of Chicano/a walkouts in LA that were part of the diverse uprisings of 1968, a photo of the women’s anti-Trump massive demonstrations from the weekend of his 2017 inauguration, and one of the fine news photos of the recent Black Lives Matter inspired protests following the death of George Floyd. (For those seeking to know more about the sources of all the elements in MAHA, Stein has supplied a full inventory for even such online flotsam as the mini ballot box, the Trump miniature bust, and the alphabet blocks comprising the acronym for Make America Hopeful Again!)
Stein acknowledges that some may find this too much of a jumble. We actually had offered her a slightly larger cube when she mentioned she was having trouble cramming in all the elements she had chosen, but she declined the offer, electing to work with the confining quality of the slightly smaller cube. She tells us she felt the sense of compression especially apt given the way we all experience confinement during the pandemic plus the mounting forces and pressures that make this election all the more subject to dispute given the stakes that are involved if we have any chance of regaining hope for the nation . . . and even the planet.
We end with the slogan abbreviated by MAHA _ Make American Hopeful Again!
Contact: Annetta Kapon, email@example.com
Sources* for MAHA [Make America Hopeful Again] by Sally Stein for PROXY,
Left wall: Sergio Flores/Getty images, George Floyd Protest, Houston, TX, June 2020.
Rear wall: Bruce Davidson/Magnum, Selma March 1965.
Right wall: uncredited photo found online for East Los Angeles Chicano student walkouts, 1968.
Base: uncredited photo found at Wikipedia of Women’s March on Washington, 2017.
VOTE graphic: with permission of Resistance by Design, 2020:
Uncle Goose Classic ABC wooden blocks [still hand-manufactured in Grand Rapids,, Michigan].
Sally Stein: Legozymandias (2017)
Miniature bust of Trump in white by 3D Printed Debris
Acrylic mini ballot box with sign holder from Detroit Store Fixture:
*Some images found online have been cropped, slightly altered, rescaled or reproportioned to fit PROXY’s small cube.
FYI: In California, you must be registered to vote 15 days before any election; the next being Nov. 3 = make sure to register by mid October! For more info about online and mail-in registration in California, go to