By Jordyn Haime
Activism is in the air this month at the Loading Dock Gallery, where heavy-impact art makes a statement on a one-inch canvas: the pin-back button.
Hot Buttons! features 50 collectible and fun-to-wear designs by local artists.
“It was interesting to get artists who were willing to take their art and try it because this is designing something that is on such a small surface, but it still has a very powerful message,” says Katherine DuBose, the creative mind behind the exhibit running now through Aug. 27.
“Especially right now, I thought it was perfect because people are really interested in being active.”
Each of the featured buttons highlight a “hot-button” issue of the artist’s choice. Some are political and others feature designs that, to the artist, represent something compelling “that kind of gets your blood going,” DuBose explains.
President Trump makes appearances in DuBose’s own “Hot Air Buffoon,” and artist Robb Sandagata’s “Trump Hulk.” Other buttons spotlight global issues like Angela Ales’ environmental warning “Keep It Clean,” while some simply celebrate art or the city of Lowell, like Maxine Farkas’ “Making Art Is Work.”
DuBose says Hot Buttons! was inspired by button-trading shows she attended in Seattle. She wanted to bring that culture to Lowell.
The Aug. 3 opening reception made the exhibit all the more socially interactive. Attendees purchased bags of 6 randomly selected buttons for $5 each, and were encourage to trade, cajole, or beg each other for the designs they were after.
“It’s kind of like going to an auction. All of a sudden you’re bidding, and you never planned to,” explains a button-clad DuBose. “All of a sudden you’re collecting pins!”
Pin-back buttons have stood the test of time. Gaining popularity with the punk movement of the ’70s, the wearable art remains a common accessory today.
“To me this little one-inch (button) is something anyone of any age would wear and collect. It is unobtrusive yet you are still saying something,” DuBose says.
Visit Hot Buttons! on display at the Loading Dock Gallery, 122 Western Avenue, Wed.-Sat. 12 to 5:30pm, and Sun. 12 to 4pm.