Who Is Kate Kretz? New Details On Artist Banned From Facebook For Anti-Trump Art

Photo: Instagram
Who Is Kate Kretz? New Details On Artist Banned From Facebook For Anti Trump Art

A visual artist has had her Facebook account disabled for posting what the social media giant considers hate speech. But Kate Kretz says her work is art, not hate speech, and she is petitioning to get her platform back. Kretz describes herself as a middle-tier artist who works and exhibits consistently but hasn’t gotten a big break yet. In recent years, she has used social media to present images of her work, which, she says, gets her offers to exhibit more quickly than past methods of networking. However, her latest series, which includes provocative images such as KKK hoods and swastikas, has led Facebook to remove her page, and with it, her archives and contact lists.

Who is Kate Kretz and why has Facebook blocked her? Read on for all the details.

1. Artist

Kretz trained in art at the Sorbonne in Paris, has a BFA in drawing and painting from Binghamton University and an MFA from the University of Georgia. In 2006, she exhibited a work called "Blessed Art Thou,” a painting that depicted actress Angelina Jolie as the Virgin Mary, hovering in the clouds with her children above a Wal-Mart store. Kretz explains the piece, saying: “I am interested in the psychological ramifications of celebrity worship, particularly as they relate to class, self-esteem, and consumerism: I created an oppressive psychological space where the consumer is driven to reach for the tabloid, hungry for the escape provided by “information” about the celebrity's private life. Next to images of the "perfect" celebrity are ads for diet pills, aimed at the now-inadequate feeling reader.”

"Lie Hole 2017" by Kate Kretz

2. The MAGA Hat Collection

In a recent series, Kretz has been using the famous red hat associated with the Trump campaign as the base materials for a series on hate symbols. She deconstructs the original hats and recreates them into familiar symbols of hate groups such as KKK hoods or swastika armbands. She took to Medium to describe the series, explaining: “I have been ordering MAGA hats (all knockoffs, with the exception of one), ripping them apart, and then sewing them back together into traditional symbols of hatred. The works are meant to both call out wearers who claim the hats to be innocuous, and to sound the alarm that history is repeating itself.”

Examples of the MAGA Hat Collection.

RELATED: Who Is Darian Balcom? New Details On The Woman Who Claims She Was Arrested For Not Supporting President Trump

3. Removal

When Kretz first started posting images of the finished artwork to Facebook, she claims the response from her followers was positive. She is known for provocative artwork and those who appreciate her offerings have come to expect this of her. However, the use of recognizable hate symbols tests the limits of Facebook's algorithms and her posts were removed. In her blog post about it she says: “In early May, several of the images above were removed from Facebook, because they violated “the community standards.” I protested their removal with an explanation that they were artworks, and (like political cartoons) they included the offensive symbol to make a point about it. I later re-posted the images with prominent text photoshopped onto them, explaining that they were artworks…”

"Individuation Dress" by Kate Kretz

4. Account deleted

After reporting the images with the explanatory text, Kretz logged in earlier this month to discover that her entire account was disabled. She has been attempting to navigate the appeals process at Facebook to get it reinstated — or at least download the archive of her own photos she posted there — but she finds that Facebook is not responsive and she cannot reach a real person to discuss the problem. The loss of her Facebook account brings with it a massive loss to her career as an artist: her contact list. As she explains: “In the Art World, it is often said “It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know.” Last week, Facebook effectively destroyed for me the most precious thing any business can possess: a mailing list. Over the past decade, every time I read an article, go to a conference, see an exhibition, or meet new people, I add relevant contacts on Facebook. As a result, I have built up a highly targeted audience for my work that has given me tremendous opportunities in the form of feedback, collegial discussions on art topics, exposure to other artists’ work, articles, interviews, sales and exhibitions. This list of contacts is impossible to recreate.”

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Join now for YourTango's trending articles, top expert advice and personal horoscopes delivered straight to your inbox each morning.

A painting by Kate Kretz.

RELATED: How Did Kai Schachter Die? 5 Details About The Young Artist And His Family

5. Words of caution

Kretz says she can’t know how Facebook became aware of her work and why her page was taken down. It’s not clear if this is due to an algorithm for spotting controversial symbols or whether there was a coordinated effort by trolls to report her account. The result, however, is the loss of a platform for a working artist and the consequences to her business are grave. She cautions other artists to plan for the day when this might happen to them, saying: “My advice to artists on Facebook is to take screen grabs and create a private archive of everything that is important to you. Your contact list is the most critical (should you have to rebuild it), but also work you have posted that generated a lot of responses, articles that you might want to reference again, and images that others have taken of you, your work, and exhibitions. Keep building your old-fashioned email list: don’t rely solely on Facebook to get the word out.”

"untitled (flag)" by Kate Kretz.

Kretz is still trying to get her account reinstated.

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.