An OU fine arts alumnus created a 6-foot-6 sculpture of President Donald Trump’s head and invited people to roll his head near Lake Merritt in Oakland, California, at noon Saturday.
The inspiration behind visual artist Larry McSpadden’s piece “Let’s Roll Trump Out of Office” came from a peaceful protest he attended at Lake Merritt following Trump’s inauguration. He referred to this event as a “mourning” protest as he walked hand in hand with thousands of people for 3.2 miles around the lake to show his disapproval of a president who he said defies all logic.
McSpadden said he did nothing else except work on this project for the past three years and, despite people’s inquisitions or judgments, he does not regret devoting his time to it.
“Every day, it’s unfathomable that this person is leading or pretending to lead this country,” McSpadden said. “All of these three years, I have still been stoked to create this project. It seems kind of amazing to me because I’ve never worked on a piece for this long.”
The sculpture began with the basics, McSpadden said. A pairing of papier-mache and a weather balloon became the foundations of Trump’s head, which McSpadden said he filled with cardboard to maintain its shape.
McSpadden said spray foam, carving and paint brought the outside of the sculpture to life while the inside found meaning in a collage of quotes from Trump — including pictures of him, burgers and money.
“There's a humorous element to it because it ended up looking sort of cartoony — which I kind of like,” McSpadden said. “And then there's an inside element so people will be able to look in there during the event at certain times and see the whirlwind of ridiculous ideas.”
Although McSpadden spent three years on the project, he said his original idea behind the performance art was to roll the sculpture near Lake Merritt and get it dirty. He said he does not view this act as wasteful — rather, he sees it as a statement.
“I’m going to go with the idea (to damage it), although my many friends and wife think it’s kind of sad to damage it,” McSpadden said. “And I think they are right, but the president we have is even sadder.”
McSpadden invited people to help roll the head in masks and gloves because he wanted to give them a chance to safely protest and respond to current politics.
“There’s an element where we can all participate — anybody can help roll the sculpture,” McSpadden said. “Hopefully then I get some sort of catharsis with the whole stressful thing of having this president.”
Ultimately, McSpadden said he hopes his art and protest will remind people of the importance of casting their votes in the upcoming election.
“To choose not to vote is to say I don't want to influence how my life and many other lives are going to progress,” McSpadden said. “The privilege of voting is really incredible.”