The Official Unofficial Voting Station: Voting for All Who Legally Can’t
October 1–November 30, 2020
October 1–November 30, 2020
Experience the act of voting as it could be: broad, inclusive, and cause for celebration. The Official Unofficial Voting Station is an idealized online polling place created by artist-activist Aram Han Sifuentes. A wide-open extension of democracy, the playfully designed voting station welcomes everyone to cast a symbolic ballot—regardless of the legal barriers that prevent approximately ninety-two million people in the United States from participating in elections.
Surrounding the 2020 presidential election, the Skirball encouraged people to join this aspirational voting movement from home. Those who made their voices heard in The Official Unofficial Voting Station were also invited to request custom “I Voted” stickers and other materials designed by Han Sifuentes and her collaborators in a mailed Voted Despite the System Justice Kit.
Following two sold-out, artist-led online workshops offered by the Skirball during the summer of 2020—in which participants created their own fabric protest banners—The Official Unofficial Voting Station: Voting for All Who Legally Can’t represents the second phase of a 2020–2021 collaboration with Han Sifuentes, anchored in the multi-stage exhibition Talking Back to Power: Projects by Aram Han Sifuentes (April 14–September 4, 2022).
Aram Han Sifuentes is a multidisciplinary fiber, social practice, and performance artist who works to claim spaces for immigrant and disenfranchised communities. As an immigrant herself, Han Sifuentes often creates work that revolves around skill sharing to create multiethnic and intergenerational spaces for empowerment, conversation, subversion of oppressive power structures, and protest.
Her work has been presented in exhibitions, performances, and workshops at the Whitney Museum of American Art (New York, NY), the Pulitzer Arts Foundation (St. Louis, MO), Illinois State University Galleries (Normal, IL), Asian Arts Initiative (Philadelphia, PA), Chung Young Yang Embroidery Museum (Seoul, KR), and the Design Museum (London, UK). Han Sifuentes is a 2016 Smithsonian Artist Research Fellow and Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is currently Artist in Residence at Loyola University Chicago.
Laura Mart: Can you tell me about your family’s story, and how your experience as an immigrant and a naturalized citizen informs your worldview and artistic practice?
Aram Han Sifuentes: I was born in Seoul, South Korea, and we moved to the United States when I was five years old. My parents came here without knowing what they would do for work. Luckily, someone in the small Korean community in the Central Valley of California hired them to work at their dry-cleaning business. My parents were able to open up their own dry-cleaning business and they still do this work today. With my mom always bringing sewing home with her, I learned to sew when I was six years old. And it is here, from the beginning, where sewing became political for me and linked to my identity.
A component of Talking Back to Power: Project by Aram Han Sifuentes, the online exhibition The Official Unofficial Voting Station: Voting for All Who Legally Can’t and its related educational programs are made possible by generous support from: