Hank Willis Thomas and Emily Shur, Freedom of Worship, 2018. © For Freedoms.
In the wake of the 2018 midterm elections, For Freedoms: Where Do We Go From Here? explores the role of art and visual representation in American civic life through the work of the For Freedoms collective. Founded in 2016 by Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms is an artist-led platform that investigates how art and artists can help deepen public discourse and political awareness in the United States.
The exhibition features a series of photographs that re-envision American artist Norman Rockwell’s paintings of the "Four Freedoms" articulated by Franklin D. Roosevelt in his 1941 State of the Union Address. Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear are embodied in stylized scenes of the everyday that reference Rockwell’s iconic style while bringing new, more inclusive representations of the country to the discussion of our core values.
In September 2018, For Freedoms launched a nationwide initiative, partnering with over 150 artists and community organizations in what would become the largest creative collaboration in our country’s history. The 50-State Initiative, a series of decentralized exhibitions, public art commissions, town halls, and other events, reinforced the idea that citizenship is defined by participation, and not by ideology. Continuing in this spirit of collaboration, the exhibition also serves as an active space in which members of For Freedoms, nonprofits, and the public are invited to discuss the importance of civic engagement and develop educational programming based on the project.