NEWBURY — Visual artist Carol Baum — whose "Trash Tower" project initiated in 2014 attempted to raise awareness about a local littering problem — is once again using public art to make a political statement, but this time she has a national target in mind.
Baum has replicated 99 tweets written by President Donald Trump and turned them into an installation she calls “white house.” The sculpture is her response to what she feels are the failures and offenses of the current president.
“Donald Trump has obliterated democratic norms during his presidency. He attacks women, minorities, and anyone who has the decency to stand up to his assaults,” Baum said. “Every day, there’s a new barrage of lies, insults and conspiracies.”
Trump has spent a total of nine days, 36 hours and 17 minutes tweeting since taking office, according to a Washington Post article Aug. 10.
Baum’s piece consists of four walls (each about 71 inches by 56½ inches) constructed from sheets of 8½-by-11-inch plastic-laminated white copy paper and affixed to one another with twine. The walls are attached to posts sunk into the ground to create a free-standing structure. Each paper sheet contains a single Trump tweet handwritten in calligraphy.
“Inside the structure is a birdbath where birds can splash as the tweets flap in the wind,” Baum noted.
The exhibit, located on her side lawn, opened earlier this month “and will close whenever President Trump leaves office,” the artist said. Viewing is by invitation only. To set up a time to see the piece, email Baum at email@example.com with a request.
“I'll reply with my address and possible times," she said. "There's no cost.”
Baum's "Trash Tower," which demonstrated the amount of litter she collected on weekly walks in her neighborhood, stood in front of Newbury Elementary School for nearly five years.
“The piece engaged students and the surrounding community with how our citizens are often blind to the ways we damage our ecology," she said.
Baum first presented the idea for the project to selectmen in 2012 and from there, it blossomed into a successful collaborative project working with students, teachers and administrators of the local elementary school as well as from Triton Regional High School and Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in Haverhill.
“The project will be successful if the tower is never filled. Then, the artwork — this sculpture — will have worked to change people’s behavior,” Baum told students, teachers and others during an unveiling of "Trash Tower" in front of the school in 2014.
The tower was eventually removed last year, but Baum continues to collect litter every Tuesday morning.
She said her neighbor, Glen Doherty, helped with the installation of "white house," and she’s hoping an individual or group might want to install the piece in some place with more visibility.
“It'd be much more accessible to the general public if it weren't just in my yard,” she said.
“My ‘white house' — comprised of Trump’s tweets — is my way of striking back at his appalling behavior,” Baum said. “Trump has transformed our government with his use of tweets. Now, let him skewer himself with his own words.”