NY Street Art Chimes in on the Health Care Debate (photo)

The juxtaposition of the frailty of the spider’s web and the issue is a nice match. Looks like the work of Elbowtoe but I’m not yet sure. Confirmed it’s Elbowtoe.

via JakeDobkin

6 responses to “NY Street Art Chimes in on the Health Care Debate (photo)”

  1. Beth Avatar

    It’s an homage to Charlotte’s Web. Charlotte the spider would write messages in her web, so the farmer wouldn’t kill his pig…

  2. forumandcontent Avatar


    I wonder if this piece lends itself to misreading.

    By making a spider say she needs healthcare, one might think that the artist is implying that it’s absurd to think that everyone needs health insurance, or that it’s a slippery slope to healthcare for dogs and cats (or pigs). Another misreading might be this: that the claims of the underprivileged (the spiders) to affordable healthcare are totally unwarranted, as unwarranted as a spider’s claim to need healthcare.

    Of course, these are *mis*readings, but I worry about the strength of the piece’s message, if it is so easy to misread it. What do you think?

  3. hv Avatar

    That’s a really interesting interpretation. I saw it as more of an argument for the overlooked members of society. But you are correct, that probably says more–in this regard–about me and my values than those of the artist. Having said that though, the value of the work comes from its ability to offer those multiple readings without disrupting the aesthetic experience….don’t you agree?

  4. forumandcontent Avatar


    I wonder if the work succeeds though. I mean, if the point is to forcefully express the artist’s support of healthcare reform, then I think it does not succeed. The force is diminished by the ambiguity. I suspect, but cannot be certain, that that was indeed the point. Of course, not all works purport to make a single claim, or to wear a ready interpretation on their sleeve. But I’m not inclined to think that this Elbow Toe is such a work.

  5. hv Avatar

    Well, I think one of the things that separates propaganda from art is that ambiguity. One of the issues I have with Shepard Fairey is that little is left to the imagination and his work veers to far into the world of graphic design…like an ad.

    I think this work succeeds since it initiates debate. I don’t think its meaning is necessarily obvious. I also like the sense that one gust of wind could blow the whole web (issue) away. Lest we forget the supposedly populist “town halls.”

    I think if you asked Elbowtoe what if he was thinking when he created this, he might not have an explanation for it as detailed as our discussion but I don’t think that matters. His ability to create an image that he can’t explain is the reason he’s a visual artist.

    Btw, I’m waiting for him to return my call about a studio visit. We finally connected and then he disappeared…I’ll report back if I hear anything.

  6. forumandcontent Avatar

    Oh nice point about it blowing away. I like that.

    I agree about Fairey. I’ve actually spelled out my reasons for thinking that here:


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