Southampton artist Lutha Leahy-Miller diverted from his usual works featuring surfers, skulls and Buddhist imagery last week and instead shared a strikingly accurate portrait of Donald Trump’s leading lady—sorry, Melania—and Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, on his various social media accounts.
“It’s a political cartoon, with a definite slant to the left,” Leahy-Miller says of the image, which depicts Conway in his recognizable style using Japanese brush pen and ink. While clearly representational, the art offers expressive mark-making, such as the wavelike flourishes in Conway’s hair.
“As of late I have been trying to loosen up my style and go with the flow much much more. In other words, just draw and go instead of thinking too much … my newer works have lots more lines and seem to be more complex,” the artist explains. “I tried to bring out her inner nasty, to make her look as ugly as can be simply by adhering to her facial characteristics, but then just slightly tweaking them in a darker direction—I wanted show her inner darkness.”
Leahy-Miller referenced a post-inauguration news photograph of Conway, which immediately struck him as strange when he found it. “In the original photo, her eyes look really bizarre, like she was high on the arrogance of winning the election, and of successfully lying to the American public again and again. … I tried to capture that and then worked out from there,” he says, noting that her outfit at Trump’s inauguration also struck him as odd. “The vision of her in that Gucci suit, which is a blatant rip off of a French Revolutionary army uniform, just made me pause.”
Considering what he perceives as Conway’s nod to the French Revolution, Leahy-Miller points out the extreme nationalism of the time, offering an August 23, 1793 quote from the levée en masse (mass military conscription of all able-bodied men) decree from France’s new National Convention—at the insistence of Bertrand Barère and Lazare Carnot. “From this moment until such time as its enemies shall have been driven from the soil of the Republic.”
Leahy-Miller continues, “So the fact that she might see herself as revolutionary, when in fact the only revolution going on is the reclaiming of the White House by the hands of big oil and deregulation, makes want to throw up. It’s not a revolution of the people nor of the oppressed, it is a revolution of the oppressors getting ready to spike down the nails in the coffin of the collective populous of the U.S.”
He compares the outfit to one worn by “the great oppressor and dictator” Napolean, noting, “These are just some of the thoughts that were going through my mind after seeing her in that suit and hearing talk of alternative fact. … Just some”
A surfer, artist and substitute teacher, Leahy-Miller graduated from Southampton High School in 1994. He writes the DansPapers.com Hamptons Surf Report every day. You can find his work at Romany Kramoris Gallery in Sag Harbor or at lutha.net. You can also follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.