Brush strokes

Artist put hidden ‘feminist message’ in painting of presidents

A painting showing Donald Trump smiling and sitting around a table sharing a laugh with previous Republican presidents caught fire on social media this week after it was seen hanging on a wall inside the White House during Lesley Stahl’s 60 Minutes interview with the commander in chief. Turns out, there’s “a feminist message” hidden in the painting, the artist who created it said, as well as the same hidden message in his painting showing past Democratic presidents, who are portrayed in a similarly jovial depiction.

Andy Thomas, a Missouri-based artist, appeared on CNN to talk with Brooke Baldwin about the painting and the hidden message seen in each version of the work. In both paintings — The Republican Club and The Democratic Club, as they’re titled — a “kind of blurry female figure” can be seen standing in the background, Baldwin pointed out during the interview. “It’s a woman,” Baldwin said. “Tell me who she is.”

“That would be, in this case, the first female Republican president walking over to take her place at the table,” Thomas replied. “And same way with the Democratic painting.”

“I’ve heard people call it a feminist message,” the artist added. “I’m far from — I would be a big disappointment to feminists everywhere. But it’s something that’s gonna happen, you know, it doesn’t need to be advocated or anything — we’re gonna have a woman. You know, 50 percent of our presidents will be women probably from this time on,” Thomas predicted.

“What makes you so sure,” Baldwin pressed.

“Other countries are doing it,” Thomas said.

“So it’s about time we did it here,” Baldwin said, adding that there are a record number of women candidates running in the 2018 midterm elections.

When asked why it was important to represent a woman in the painting, Thomas said he “didn’t want to have it [depict] all men, just because it begins to look like a good old boys club. I knew I wanted to put women in there.”

He said that as he was painting a woman into the piece, he imagined the situation for a the first woman president walking up to sit at a table like that and “I thought ‘Wow, that would be pretty intimidating to walk up to that table of powerful people. But then I thought … my daughter would walk right up there. She’s been doing it in 20 years for business.”

As for his politics, Thomas plays it close to the vest. “I’m not registered in any way,” he said when asked about his political affiliation. “If I have some political leanings, I hope it doesn’t show in my paintings.”

Below, watch Baldwin’s full interview with Thomas.

Read the full story at CNN and see more of Andy Thomas’ work here.

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