In the days before the 2016 US presidential election, voters across the country shared their enthusiasm by placing signs in their front yards with the names of their choice candidate. Taking note of the many Trump signs springing up across upstate New York, photographer Richard Beaven visited the homes of Trump supporters to better understand their perspective. One year later, Beaven returned to the same homes and asked them to grade the progress of their elected president.
Here, Richard Beaven shares his words and pictures from both 2016 and one year later in 2017.
Traveling around Donald Trump's home state of New York, I was inspired to embark on this project by the growing number of homemade signs for Trump appearing across the Hudson Valley and Capital District. I set out to meet and photograph the people behind the signs. One year later, I returned to photograph many of the New York voters I first photographed with their homemade signs before the 2016 US presidential election. The original portraits, which collectively I call “In Trump Country,” didn’t seem quite so important then, before the election. They do now. Many could not believe or would not believe it might happen. These people did.
"Bear" Brandow of Gloversville, New York
Oct. 5, 2016: Brandow sewed the sign together himself after learning to use a sewing machine online.
One year later: “He’s trying to do his job but they just ain’t letting him.”
His grade for President Trump so far: “A+ for standing up for American rights.”
Adam-Wayne Therrien of Greenville, New York
Oct. 1, 2016: Therrien saw others putting up signs and was inspired to make his own. "I truly love America and believe Trump will bring industry and jobs back."
One year later: “Some people say they fear a war. I don’t. If I am drafted I am willing to go. One of my biggest regrets is not going into the military.”
His grade for President Trump so far: "A-"
Brother and sister, Joe and Ann Marie Vadney of Selkirk, New York
Oct. 13, 2016: The Vadneys had two campaign issued signs stolen before using the van.
One year later for Ann: “He gave people hope and hope makes things happen. I think he’s wonderful. ”
Ann's grade for President Trump so far: “ A+ ”
One year later for Joe: “I am all for everything he is doing. He hits issues on the money. He talks down-to-earth. He has been trying to fulfill the commitments he made to the citizens that elected him.”
Joe's grade for President Trump so far: "A+"
Jay Gurac (left) and Stevie Tirpak (right) of Oak Hill, New York
Oct. 4, 2016: Gurac and Tirpak were inspired to build the sign after attending a Trump rally in Albany, New York.
One year later for Gurac: “I am not in favor of his tweeting, but it’s his only line of communication.”
His grade for President Trump so far: "A"
Joe Bennett (left) and Fay Johnson (right) of Germantown, New York
Sept. 11 2016: Johnson had been hearing about stolen yard signs and decided to build a sign no one could steal.
One year later for Fay: “He’s trying to keep his word but they just keep shutting him down.”
Johnson's grade for President Trump so far?: "A"
One year later for Bennett: “I put my sign back up because I am pissed that no one shows the president any respect. Everyone’s fighting him but he’s sticking to his guns.”
Bennett's grade for President Trump so far: "A-"
Lex Harned of Cairo, New York
Sept. 27, 2016: Harned builds a sign for every political campaign. "I believe if you don't have a voice you don't have an opinion," he said.
One year later: “He has shown the world that we are a world leader, that we are world power. We’ve drawn a line in the sand with the other countries.”
His grade for President Trump so far: "B+"
Rich Knoth of Catskill, New York
Oct. 8, 2016: Knoth built the sign while waiting for official campaign yard signs to arrive.
One year later: “He does scare me a little with some of the things he says. I hope he makes the full term.”
His grade for President Trump so far: "B+"
Neil and Susan Gardner of Stephentown, NY
Oct. 9, 2016: The Gardners had numerous yard signs stolen. "Our country has gone to shit," said Neil Gardner.
One year later for Susan: “He is fulfilling what I expected of him.”
Susan's grade for President Trump so far: "B+"
One year later for Neil: “He’s doing good but the rest of them, Republicans and Democrats, are all crooked. You don’t know what to believe any more.”
Neil's grade for President Trump so far: "A"