How this Charlotte woman is turning her yard art into a silent protest


Charlotte photographer Deborah Triplett was watching the popular new Hulu series, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” when she found herself floored by how similar the fictional government was in comparison to the current administration. Like many women fed up with the current political climate of the federal government, she wanted to make a public statement. 

That’s when the Yard Art Day founder came up with her home’s 2017 theme.


Triplett created the event in 2012 — the year Charlotte hosted the DNC — as a (literal) grassroots platform for artists to express themselves on their own properties. Its concept is simple: each Labor Day, residents create something artistic that can be seen from the front yard. Visitors travel from yard to yard to see murals, paintings, fairy gardens, theatrical performances and more. Most participants are located in the Charlotte area, although it is open to anyone in the world. (Find this year’s Yard Art Day Map here.)

“Extreme things are happening right now,” said Triplett, who, three decades ago, read Margaret Atwood’s book that inspired the Hulu series. “In the book, the extreme right-wing religious zealots have taken over the United States. Getting rid of artists, philosophers, scientists, journalists, people of color, Jews. They have created a strong border. It felt like being punched in the gut while watching it.”

At 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 4, Triplett will be in her front yard at 1908 Matheson Ave., donning a red robe and homemade bonnet, à la the show, for an emotional silent protest. 

Up to 96 women will be joining her.

At the curb, the women will unveil two banners; “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum” and the translated “Don’t let the bastards grind you down”.

On Triplett’s cue, everyone will drop their robes and throw off their bonnets. Under their robes will be T-shirts proclaiming causes the women are for or against — “with defiance,” she said.

Last weekend, a group of female participants, surrounded by cardboard and fabric, red robes and Prosecco, got together at a home in NoDa. They planned their exhibit, sewed bonnets and discussed why this project speaks to them on a personal level.

“I am really tired of legislators deciding that they can take over our lives,” said Charlotte resident Marnie Poirier. “Who do they hell do they think they are?”

Poirier was planning to use her father’s handkerchief to sew her bonnet. “He would love that I will use his handkerchief; he would say ‘good for you — get that ass out of the White House,’” she said.

Matthews resident Elaine Miller is currently writing a novel, set in New Testament times, that explores how different the world would be had women had rights back then.

“If women had not been silenced, the world would be a better place,” Miller said. “That’s why I’m doing this.”

Marnie Poirier

This statement goes beyond the yard and into the community, where those at the gathering talked about other ways to make a difference and why the demonstration has had such an overwhelming response.

“I think if we’d had the time, thousands would have showed up,” Triplett said. “I remember the bra burning era. I remember all those feelings I had as a young woman, and I was under the mistaken belief that we were past that. Much like  I thought we were past the point of racism, but we’re not. That makes me sad.”

Marnie Poirier

“I could cry or scream or take a stand. Love doesn’t always win,” said Triplett, who plans to wear a T-shirt with the word “Feminist” on it. “Love can come in many forms. This is my way of showing love.”

Photos: Deborah Triplett


    • Hateful? How would it be difficult to explain the message to a child? “Well Jimmy, it means you shouldn’t let bad people grind you down, don’t let them deplete your spirit. It means don’t give up. It’s an inspirational message. In the book it’s taken from it’s seen as a reminder that you’re not alone, which is a good thing to remember when you’re having a bad day and feel like everything is going wrong.”


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