The Official Unofficial Voting Station: Voting for All Who Legally Can’t is a socially engaged art project focused on creating imaginative voting stations open to all, but particularly for the disenfranchised. In a season where the disenfranchised are deemed to be silent and invisible, these stations are not only sites for casting symbolic votes but also a site for loud celebration and protest.
The first iteration of the Official Unofficial Voting Station took place in 2016, as a way to vote as a non-citizen immigrant. According to the U.S. Election Project, in 2016, 28.6% of Americans, equating to 92 million people, were disenfranchised and ineligible to vote in the presidential election. This monumental number does not even factor in voter suppression. In 2016, I collaborated with more than 15 artists, activists, and organizations to reimagine voting by creating 25 guerilla art performances, installations, and activations centering those who are disenfranchised. You can see 2016 activations here.
The second iteration of the project is for the upcoming 2020 election. Before the pandemic, I was focused on creating Voting Kits for the Disenfranchised, a collective kit with objects made by myself and other socially engaged artists to be dispersed into the world for artists, activists, educators, and students to activate and create their own imaginative voting stations. (The items in these kits can be accessed on this website under "ACT"). Since the pandemic, with disenfranchisement and voting access becoming tremendously more present and precarious, this virtual voting station, officialunofficial.vote, was developed in collaboration with Jon Satrom.
This website is the central station that holds and displays the ongoing vote tallies for all the Official Unofficial Voting Stations. It is also the central site to access art and resources about and for those who can’t legally vote.
If you would like to activate your own ≈Voting Kits for the Disenfranchised, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Aram Han Sifuentes is a fiber and social practice artist who works to claim spaces for immigrant and disenfranchised communities. Her work often revolves around skill sharing, specifically sewing techniques, to create multiethnic and intergenerational sewing circles, which become a place for empowerment, subversion and protest. Solo exhibitions of her work have been exhibited at Jane Addams Hull-House Museum (Chicago, IL), Hyde Park Art Center (Chicago, IL), Chicago Cultural Center (Chicago, IL), Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia, PA), Table Art Center (Charleston, IL), University Galleries at Illinois State University (Normal, IL), and Pulitzer Arts Foundation (St. Louis, MO). Her solo exhibition, Talking Back to Power, will be on exhibit at the Skirball Cultural Center (Los Angeles, CA) 2020-2021.
Aram is a 2016 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow, 2016 3Arts Awardee, 2017 Sustainable Arts Foundation Awardee, and a 2020 Map Fund Grantee. Her project Protest Banner Lending Library was a finalist for the Beazley Design Awards at the Design Museum (London, UK) in 2016. She earned her BA in Art and Latin American Studies from the University of California, Berkeley, and her MFA in Fiber and Material Studies from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently an Associate Professor, Adjunct at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and the 2020-2021 Artist-in-Residence at Loyola University Chicago.
This project is partially supported by an Individual Artists Program Grant from the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs & Special Events, as well as a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, a state agency through federal funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Graphic designer for this project: Ishita Dharap
This site and digital aspects of the 2020 Official Unofficial Voting Station: Voting for All Who Legally Can’t were created in collaboration with Jon Satrom & studiothread