The Trumpocalypse billboard on Grand Avenue has come down, two months after its namesake was voted out of office. The billboard created by California artist Karen Fiorito was replaced on January 27 by a new design that features artwork highlighting Black History Month.
The new design features two raised fists with wrists bearing broken chains, plus the profile of a Black woman with flowing hair that runs across the piece. The text reads “Black History Matters 1619 & Beyond.” It was created primarily with a trio of colors — orange, green, and yellow — by Gizette Knight and artist James D’Angelico.
The billboard is part of the Grand Avenue Billboard Project, which is headed by Beatrice Moore, an artist and historic preservation advocate who owns several properties on Grand Avenue.
The billboard has had several iterations during the past four years. Fiorito installed her Trumpocalypse design showing Trump flanked by dollar signs resembling swastikas in March 2017, a choice that reflected her “fears of a Trump administration.”
“It was only a temporary thing,” Fiorito says of the initial design, which was modified at one point by locals who added a red half-dome resembling a clown nose to Trump’s face.
In June 2020, Fiorito covered Trumpocalypse with a voting-themed design, hoping it would encourage people to participate in the November 2020 election. In December 2019, her third and final Trump-related design was installed.
Titled Don the Con, her final piece pictured Trump behind bars, donning an orange prison jumpsuit and standing behind bars. “This one is my hope of what will happen afterwards; it’s pretty aspirational,” she said at the time.
The opposite side of the billboard has a black-and-white Fiorito design installed in 2020 during protests surrounding the issue of police brutality. Underneath it, there's a banner that reads "Unity" in American Sign Language. That artwork will remain for now, according to Moore.
The new billboard is just the latest effort undertaken by Knight to highlight issues related to the Black Lives Matter movement. Last year, she worked to bring a Black Lives Matter street mural to Phoenix, but that project never got approved by Phoenix City Council.
Phoenix New Times reached out to Knight for details about the new billboard's inspiration, but had not heard back as of this writing.
Moore was on hand during the installation, documenting the process as the wind whipped a corner of the new design upward to reveal the swastika-like dollar sign beneath it. She'll save the banners bearing Fiorito's earlier designs, which will become part of the artist's own documentation of her multiyear project on Grand Avenue.
“I wanted to have something really simple,” explains Moore, who says she’s donated the billboard space for the newest project for the next year. “There are a lot of important issues related to the Black Lives Matter movement that need to be addressed.”
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