The art world is looking to get Ivanka Trump’s attention. On Monday night, roughly 500 people – including popular artists like Cecily Brown, Ryan McNamara and Marilyn Minter – gathered in Downtown Manhattan to protest and write letters to President-Elect Donald Trump’s eldest daughter. The event was organized by Halt Action Group, a faction of artists, curators, writers and gallerists who “felt the need for an immediate response to mitigate the disaster of a Trump presidency,” according to writer and curator Ariella Wolens, who is one of many organizers.
For two hours, attendees held a candlelight vigil outside of the Puck Building – which is located on Houston and Lafayette Streets and is owned by her husband Jared Kushner’s family, and where they reportedly own a penthouse apartment – before marching to the Trump SoHo hotel. The point of the protest, according to the group’s website, was to ask Ivanka to denounce her father’s actions and implore him to put a stop to the rampant “racism, anti-Semitism, misogyny and homophobia” since his election. (According to a new report from the Southern Poverty Law Center the 10 days following Trump’s election saw at least 867 reports of hate incidents involving harassment and intimidation.)
“There was a consensus that we needed to come together and figure out a plan,” Wolens tells Rolling Stone. “So we put out the word and set a date. The idea for the protest came up at the first meeting – we really just wanted to get out there as soon as possible and do something.”
The group didn’t wait for its planned protest date to do something. Last week, Halt Action Group created an Instagram account called ‘Dear Ivanka,’ which has been posting glamour shots of the future First Daughter captioned with messages that express anxiety over the hate crimes that will likely happen during Trump’s presidency – as well as the hundreds of hate crimes that have already been reported. “Will you keep another Jew like me safe from Steve Bannon and the KKK?” asked designer and filmmaker Arden Wohl in a caption under a photo of herself with Ivanka. (At the time of publishing this story, the account has over 10,500 followers.)
Several letters written by attendees during Monday’s protest, like Minter’s humorous note (“Dear Ivanka, If someone grabs my pussy is it OK to fart?”), as well as other more serious ones (“Dear Ivanka, I am a Muslim American immigrant and I don’t feel safe.”; “Dear Ivanka, I’m afraid of Mike Pence and conversion therapy on kids.”) have already been posted to the Instagram account. All of the letters will be documented, Wolens says, published on a public website and sent to Ivanka in the mail. Halt Action Group is planning “other upcoming actions, which will go beyond protests in the upcoming weeks,” according to Wolens, though it isn’t yet clear what those actions may be.
The group has also composed a more formal letter addressed to Ivanka explaining why New York City artists and others coalesced at her building on Monday: “Because you are an official member of your father’s transition team,” it reads, “we wanted to appeal to your rationality, and your commitment to protecting the rights of all Americans, especially women and children. As your father has said on countless occasions, you are the one who really has his ear…. All of these ‘Dear Ivanka’ notes form a giant open letter, which we will continue to add to, voicing our shared anxieties and hopes; we are writing to you – and your husband – [to] ask for your help and attention.”
Beyond her post within the transition team, the group is targeting Ivanka because “her husband is trying to get a position within the cabinet, and she is one of the key family members said to take over the Trump businesses and is not abiding by the required transparency about conflicts of interest normally governing the office of the president,” explains curator and organizer Alison Gingeras.
The group takes issue with Trump’s appointment of white nationalist Steve Bannon as chief strategist of the White House, as well as his pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and his signaling of a possible Muslim registry, among other actions.
In appealing to Ivanka through social media and on-the-ground action Halt is hoping that she will be “the voice of reason.” So far, she has yet to reply.