Somewhere along the I-95 in Philadelphia, a billboard spells out two words in Trump’s campaign font: Pardon Me.

This is just one of the challenging artist-designed billboards that have gone up across the US this week as part of the 50 State Initiative, arguably the country’s largest public art project. The crowdfunded spectacleallows artists to have their say – and perhaps their influence – ahead of the midterm elections.

“One guy wrote us and said: ‘I see this ‘Pardon Me’ billboard every day on my way to work, can you tell me what this means?’” said Wyatt Gallery, the billboard director at For Freedoms, the New York organization behind the project. “He asked: ‘What side are you on? Are you pro-Trump or anti-Trump?’ People can’t figure out what side we’re on, or if there is a side. It makes people think more and to reach out and ask us.”

The goal, according to the For Freedoms co-founder Eric Gottesman, is to make “anti-partisan” statements on the billboards, alongside art exhibitions, installations and public programs to deepen what he calls “civic participation”. Read more