The Paintings of Karen Pence
Karen Pence, the wife of soon to be ex-vice president Mike Pence, is a painter. Back in 2016 she told the Indy Star, that she studied art at Butler, where she majored in teaching and minored in art. “I thought, gosh, ‘I’d like to learn more about art.’ I pulled it out of the air.” She graduated with BA and MA degrees in elementary education, taught art in Indiana grammar schools for many years, and sold her paintings at local art fairs.
(Unfortunately I did know about Karen’s paintings when I wrote the article, ‘Famous Art Professor Critiques the Artwork of Presidents and Dictators‘, it would have been great to include her work.)
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Now, if the whole story was simply that “a nice lady from Indiana learned how to make quaint watercolor paintings, and sold them at the local fair”, then we would have been very happy for her and said, “mazel tov, and goodbye” to Karen Pence, because her paintings are elementary, unremarkable, and very forgettable. But that’s not the whole story.
For 12 years Karen taught at Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia. The school, openly bans gay students, employees, and parents. A former ICS student Ian Cronkhite, who is gay, wrote in the HuffPo that the school was “a hotbed of right-wing fanaticism, shoved down the throats of impressionable children at every turn. The community of teachers, students and families was fiercely like-minded and almost exclusively Republican…. Obviously, homosexuality was evil…. Needless to say, it was made very clear to me, and to all of us, that there was nothing worse than being gay. [Homosexuals] were disgusting perverts who hated Christians and had a nefarious agenda to dismantle society.”
Cronkhite also wrote, “I learned at a very young age how our country was “lost” and had the blood of innocent babies on its hands. Gay marriage was an affront to the natural order.”
Evangelical elementary schools like ICS are not anything new, and the medieval lessons they teach are taught in many other religious schools, but after looking at Karen Pence’s paintings, it still must be said that even little fascists deserve better art.
If you’d like to read about how John Oliver, host of Last Weekend Tonight, answered the call when Pence tried to publish a children’s book in 2018, and wrote a much better, much more open minded, parody children’s book in protest. Check out this article in the New Yorker. Or watch the segment bellow: