Medium White Tee

  • Exhib_slideshow_exhibition_medium_white_tee

    Image courtesy of GRT Architects.

January 12, 2017 - February 09, 2017
Ward Centre

Exhibition Overview

Opening reception: Jan 11, 6-8pm

Installation hours: Jan 12–Feb 9, Thursday–Sunday, noon–6pm
Ward Centre, 1200 Ala Moana Blvd, ground floor between Red Pineapple and Bed Bath & Beyond 

In the final weeks of Barack Obama’s presidency, Brooklyn artist Emily Spivack's Medium White Tee—a pop-up installation—is on view in Ward Village's Ward Center. The idea for the installation came to Spivack this past summer after reading the New York Times article  “Obama After Dark: The Precious Hours Alone.” She was struck by these lines:

[Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel]…and Mr. Obama once imagined moving to Hawaii to open a T-shirt shack that sold only one size (medium) and one color (white). Their dream was that they would no longer have to make decisions. During difficult White House meetings when no good decision seemed possible, Mr. Emanuel would sometimes turn to Mr. Obama and say, “White.” Mr. Obama would in turn say, “Medium.”

Spivack spent months conceptualizing the space in collaboration with New York-based GRT Architects and securing the elements needed to create the installation with nearly everything donated in-kind. Medium White Tee is an interactive environment where visitors can actually purchase a medium white T-shirt. The limited-edition shirts cost $44 each—a nod to the 44th presidency. Part of the proceeds from T-shirt sales will benefit two nonprofitis—the youth-based get-out-the-vote program The Bus Federation Civic Fund, and MA’O Organic Farms

Among the installation's supporters is President Obama’s sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng, who gave her brother the very first Medium White Tee as a holiday gift. 

“When I read the Times article, I was moved by the time and care President Obama put into his eight years of service,” says Spivack. “Medium White Tee is a tribute to his accomplishments, to the decisions he didn’t run from. Ultimately it’s a thank you. I hope the space serves as a place for contemplation, to meditate on the very significant role that decision-making should play with any president—past, present, or future. Medium White Tee is a place to consider the decisions we make every day, big or small.”

Medium White Tee is a Honolulu Museum of Art off-site installation.

The artist thanks these contributors who generously donated their resources, talent and time:

Ward Village provided the installation space
GRT Architects designed the space
• Stephanie Hsu, a local architect, was instrumental in ground organizing
Print All Over Me provided 1,000 USA-made medium white T-shirts
HONBLUE provided printing
• Nan Inc. contractors built the space
Re-Use Hawaii provided raw materials
CHIPS provided graphic design
The No. 29 provided public relations and communications support 

T-shirts will also be available at starting Jan. 12.

Medium White Tee is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Medium White Tee must be made payable to “Fractured Atlas” only. The value of the Medium White Tee is $44. Any contribution above that amount is tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Jan 19 • 6pm • Surfjack
Join Emily Spivack and local organizer Stephanie Hsu for a talk about art and architecture and all things Medium White Tee