How to Exorcise Conservative Thought in an Artist, by Frances Byrd

This painting was inspired by several conversations I have had with other artists. The first reaction I face when describing my work and point of view is shock. Disdain or anger quickly follow. My impression is that I have no right to be conservative and that I am breaking some unspoken law by creating political work from my point of view. I suppose open-mindedness only applies to ideas that conform to the status quo. The next thing that typically happens is that I am quizzed on the minutia of American History facts and dates. Inevitably, I will not know a detail and then I am proven ignorant. This is the point at which I usually learn that the other artist used to be a professor and, therefore has an unfair advantage over me. So much for acceptance of opposing points of view. Or common civility.
I find these conversations inspirational, because they lead to all sorts of wonderful imagery. This painting was executed very quickly and I enjoyed every minute of it. I look forward to doing more work in this style.

Medium: acrylic and vine charcoal on wood panel Dimensions: 14w x 26h x 4d
Completed: 2008

Frances Byrd is the National Director of, and a contributing writer at Western Free Press and FreedomWorks. Her articles have also been published at Blog Bytes and Big Hollywood. Mrs. Byrd’s conceptual art and writing can be viewed at MachinePolitick.


  1. I know exactly what you mean. This week we had a critique in a painting class I am taking. Everyone there was a liberal. Even the conservatives were liberal. It is a unique experience to explain a piece that is clearly made with a conservative message, then watch the tolerant, and better, and more compassionate people let you have it.

    It is true that the pioneers take the arrows. If we are going to wrest our culture from the grasp of the progressives it will not be without some sort of confrontation. It doesn’t have to get ugly, but the potential is certainly there.

    • Christopher Cook

      I am not looking for ugly, but if that is how it ends up, so be it. THEY are solely to blame.

      • I agree Christopher. I don’t like ugly, but I have become emotionally detached from the vitriol over the years. It just seems to be part of the game.
        I find it sad, though, because I enjoy discussing differences of opinion. I often find inspiration from rare conversations with people who can remain civil in debate.
        At any rate, curling up and avoiding confrontation is not an option. I’m glad to see people like Taylor out there making a statement in a contemporary medium.

    • At the time I wrote the description for this painting, I was overwhelmed with the show for which it was created and never got back to adding details about the experience. It’s actually quite a long story, but I will attempt to summarize because people need to know what we are up against as conservative and libertarians in the art community.
      I was invited to participate in a group show by the event organizer, who had seen my pro-Iraq painting at a separate show. He was insistent that he wanted a conservative voice at his event to stir people up and show how open-minded he was. It quickly became apparent that his true intent was to force me to change by constantly pointing out to me what was wrong with my point of view and refuse approval of my submissions for the show, even though all of my ideas fell within the parameters of his guidelines. Dates and locations for the show changed repeatedly as well, though I’m sure that had more to do with is lack of professionalism in general.
      In the end, we had the show and I showed up with several paintings depicting the progressive tolerance I had experienced during the several months of planning and organizing the show – including a portrait of him entitled “Mr. Moral Superiority”. Because it was a month before the 2008 elections, I also created an interactive series of pieces about Obama under plexi-glass that people could write their comments on if they wished. Regrettably, I did not get photos before it was purchased.
      At any rate, this is typical of the way I have been treated by the art community, with the exception of only one person in over a decade. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for you to endure critiques off your work. I was not yet politically active when I was at SCAD and surprisingly experienced very little political bias while there.

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