While Americans decorate their homes with ghosts and goblins this Halloween, a Connecticut man has decided to put up a much scarier scene.
Matt Warshauer erected a multipaneled Halloween display in front of his home Saturday featuring the victims of real-life terrors – those killed by Covid-19 and Black Americans killed by police.
“These two issues to me are the key cultural/political challenges that are facing our nation,” Warshauer told CNN.
For 17 years, Warshauer has used the spooky season to create over-the-top statement-making displays to address social and political subjects from hauntingly new perspectives.
His first political display was for Halloween 2003, in response to the Iraq War, and it has become a tradition for his family ever since. In 2017, he created a display he named “The Trumpian Ship of State” in reaction to the 2016 presidential election.
His West Hartford home has since gained a reputation in the community as the “Halloween House.”
A history professor at Central Connecticut State University, Warshauer’s installations are usually politically charged and have been described by a friend as “savagely sarcastic,” displaying effigies of political figures in the past. But this year, he put government affairs aside to focus on two main issues he believes to be plaguing the country: systemic racism and the coronavirus pandemic.
The display has two sections: One tells the origin of the Black Lives Matter movement and another is about the coronavirus in America.
Warshauer said he wanted to use the BLM panel to show the history of slavery and its impact up to present times. According to his blog, the “display is not meant to be anti-police.” It features quotes from historic leaders who fought for Black lives, such as Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois and Martin Luther King Jr., and a memorial for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black Americans killed by police.
The Covid-19 panel is decorated with “coronavirus molecules” and honors 20 to 30 Americans who died from the virus. It has facts and figures from the current pandemic and flu pandemic in 1918.
The installation took 40 hours to develop, created with the help of his daughters and many discussions over the dinner table.
According to Warshauer, hundreds of cars pass through the intersection near his house daily and the response he’s gotten so far has been positive.
“I’m constantly getting thumbs up. People yell out the window, ‘Thank you,’ or I’ll see them on the sidewalk and they’re like, ‘Oh, my God. Another awesome display,’” he said.
Warshauer says what he loves most about the display is that it’s a conversation starter and a way for people to learn and share.
“In a lot of ways I’m trying to use the fun of Halloween to provide an historical and political lesson. I want people to think,” he wrote on his blog.