For Freedoms Launches Largest U.S.
Public Art Campaign in History

"50 State Initiative” Brings Powerful Artist-Designed Billboards Nationwide, 
Partners with 200+ Local Institutions for Free Public Programming

Above: With Democracy In The Balance There Is Only One Choice by artist Carrie Mae Weems in Colombus, OH, 2016.
Courtesy of Wyatt Gallery / For Freedoms.

(NEW YORK, NY — JUNE 4, 2018) — For Freedoms is proud to announce the launch of the 50 State Initiative, its national public art and political engagement campaign that brings together over 200 local partners and 175 artists. The deeply collaborative project takes form as billboards, town hall meetings, and special exhibitions to encourage broad participation and inspire dialogue around the midterm elections.

Today, to inaugurate the 50 State Initiative, For Freedoms is launching 52 Kickstarter campaigns to place artist-designed billboards in every state (as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico). Each campaign has a goal of $3,000, with a single reward level of $10. A list of billboard locations and artists is forthcoming.

In addition to the 52 Kickstarter-funded billboards, For Freedoms will work with over 200 local partners, including museums, universities, libraries, nonprofit organizations, galleries, and media companies, to create free public programming (town hall meetings, special exhibitions, etc.) to encourage and cultivate conversations on regional and national issues, empowering local artists and arts institutions to be community leaders in civic engagement—the core of the 50 State Initiative. 

The Kickstarter campaigns will close July 3, 2018. The 50 State Initiative billboards and free public programming will take place from September through December 2018. A list of current local partners is below.

"This campaign marks the largest creative collaboration in United States history, making art accessible to communities around the country," says Patton Hindle, Director of Arts at Kickstarter. “For Freedoms and Kickstarter both believe that art is a necessity in any productive democracy."


Founded by Guggenheim Fellow Hank Willis Thomas and Creative Capital artist Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms is a platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists and citizens in the United States. The 50 State Initiative will encourage broad participation in civic discourse and, by lifting up a multiplicity of voices, will spark a national dialogue about art, education, advertising, and politics. The 50 State Initiative is an extension of For Freedom's 2016 project, which placed artist billboards in Denver, CO; Miami, FL; Tallahassee, FL; Lexington, KY; New Orleans, LA; Flint, MI; Pearl, MS; Columbus, OH; Harrisburg, PA; and Memphis, TN.

“Art is vital to democracy and we want to bring it to the center of public life,” says Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms co-founder. “Key to the 50 State Initiative are our local partners across the country. We have joined with artists, museums, arts spaces, and schools to spur civic conversations focused more on the future than on the present or the past."

Left: Protect Us From Our Metadata with artist Trevor Paglen, Denver, CO, 2016. Courtesy of Wyatt Gallery / For Freedoms. Right: Us Is Them with Wyatt Gallery, New Orleans, LA, 2016. Courtesy of Wyatt Gallery / For Freedoms.


The 50 State Initiative will include Kickstarter-funded billboards by the following artists: Tania Bruguera, Zoë Buckman, Paula Crown, Sam Durant, Theaster Gates, Rashid Johnson, Marilyn Minter, Richard Misrach, Trevor Paglen, Dread Scott, Nari Ward, and Carrie Mae Weems, among othersA full list of participating artists is forthcoming.

“This wide range of artists represents the vast cultural experience and background in America today. Over their careers, each has shown a sustained engagement with the issues that define our society. We believe in art, and artists, and the conversations they create,” says Hank Willis ThomasFor Freedoms co-founder.

For Freedoms has a national network of over 175 artists, including the aforementioned artists as well as Nina Chanel Abney, Edgar Arceneaux, Firelei Báez, Sanford Biggers, Cassils, Wendy Ewald, Mariam Ghani, Maria Gaspar, Glenn Kaino, Matthew Day Jackson, Titus Kaphar, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, Xaviera Simmons, Emma Sulkowicz, Mickalene Thomas, and Fred Tomaselli, amongst others.


*List in formation of local programming partners.

Alabama Contemporary Art Center, Mobile
Birmingham Public Library
Birmingham Museum of Art
Coleman Center for the Arts, York

Institute for Human Rights, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Mobile Museum of Art
Paul R. Jones Museum of Art at the University of Alabama 
University of Alabama, Birmingham
University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa
Wiregrass Museum of Art, Dothan

21C Bentonville
Crystal Bridges, Bentonville
University of Arkansas, Little Rock
Pomona College, Claremont
University of Southern California, Los Angeles
Undefeated, Los Angeles
California College of the Arts, Oakland
CultureStrike, Oakland
Oakland Museum of California, Oakland
Stanford University, Stanford
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco
San José Museum of Art, San
Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts
Summit in LA18
Colorado College, Colorado Springs
Aspen Ideas Fest, Aspen institute
Quiet, Aspen
Amistad Center for Art & Culture, Hartford
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford
New Britain Museum of American Art, New Britain
Delaware Art Museum, Wilmington
Network Delaware
Florida International University, Miami
Pérez Art Museum, Miami
Opa-locka Community Development Corporation, Opa-Locka
Florida State University, Tallahassee
University of South Florida, Tampa
Tampa Museum of Art, Tampa
The Ringling Museum, Sarasota
Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg
The Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach
Young Arts, Miami

Clark Atlanta University, Atlanta
Poem88, Atlanta
Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw
Telfair Museums, Savannah
Jepson Center for the Arts, Savannah
Owens-Thomas House, Savannah
Savannah College of Art & Design
Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu
University of Hawaii, Manoa
MING Studios, Boise
University of Idaho, Moscow
Eastern Illinois University, Charleston
University of Chicago, Chicago
EXPO Chicago
Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University
Monique Meloche Gallery
Project&, Chicago
Table Arts Center, Eastern Illinois University
Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago
Indiana University, Bloomington
The City of Bloomington, Bloomington
Herron School of Art and Design, Indianapolis
Black Vulture Project, Paoli
21C Kansas City
Wichita State University, Wichita
21C Lexington
21C Louisville
University of Louisville, Louisville
Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans
Joan Mitchell Center, New Orleans
Tulane University, New Orleans
Maine College of Art, Portland
Center for Maine Contemporary Art, Rockland
Colby College, Waterville
Anne Arundel Community College, Arnold
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore
Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore
University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst
Hampshire College, Amherst
Tufts University/SMFA, Boston
Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston
MASS Design Group, Boston
Harvard University, Cambridge
Fitchburg Art Museum, Fitchburg
Walk Unafraid, Great Barrington
Invisibility Lab, Great Barrington
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams
Peabody Essex Museum, Salem
Williams College, Williamstown
Goodman Taft, Boston
Hutchins Center at Harvard University
Cranbrook Art Museum,
Bloomfield Hills
Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit
University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor

Minneapolis Institute of Art
University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Tougaloo College, Tougaloo
Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Jackson
Significant Developments, Jackson

Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City
Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City
Open Spaces, Kansas City
Modou Dieng (Independent Curator), St. Louis
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis
21C Kansas City
Montana State University, Billings
Native American Race Relations and Healing Series, Billings
Western Heritage Center, Billings
Missoula Art Museum, Missoula
Billings SURJ
Club Art Collective at Montana State University
Northcutt Steele Gallery at Montana State University
Western Native Voice

University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln

The Potentialist Workshop, Reno
The Generator, Sparks

New Hampshire
Keene State College, Keene
Currier Museum of Art, Manchester

New Jersey
William Paterson University, Wayne
Princeton University, Princeton
Newark Museum, Newark
Project Empty Space, Newark
Shine Portrait Studio, Newark
Rutgers University, New Brunswick

New Mexico
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque

New York
Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn
Cool Culture, Brooklyn
Electropositive, Brooklyn
Kickstarter, Brooklyn
Photoville, Brooklyn
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem, USA
ArtNoir, New York City
Arts Connect x Robert Fulton Houses, New York City
Assemble Media, New York City
Children's Museum of the Arts, New York City
Cultural Counsel, New York City
Fort Gansevoort, New York City
Forward Union, New York City
Four Freedoms Park Conservatory, New York City
Goethe-Institut, New York City
Magnum Foundation, New York City
New York Live Arts, New York City
New Museum, New York City
New York University, New York City
PEN America, New York City
Pentagram, New York City
Sing for Hope, New York City
The Federation, New York City
SUNY Purchase, Purchase
Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs
Union College, Schenectady
Syracuse University, Syracuse
Aperture Foundation
Assembly Media
Creative Capital
Electropositive, Brooklyn
International Center of Photography
Jack Shainman Gallery: The School, Kinderhook
John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Kickstarter, Brooklyn
Light Work and Syracuse University Art Galleries
New York Historical Society
Prison-to-College Pipeline
Photoville, Brooklyn
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Harlem 
Sing for Hope
The Tang Museum at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs
Union College

North Carolina
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill
Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture, Charlotte
Duke University, Durham
21C Durham
Elsewhere Projects, Greensboro
University of North Carolina at Greensboro, Greensboro
Winston-Salem State University, Winston-Salem

North Dakota
North Dakota State University, Fargo
Plains Art Museum, Fargo

Art Academy of Cincinnati, Cincinnati
Wave Pool, Cincinnati
Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati
University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati
City Club of Cleveland, Cleveland
Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland, Cleveland
21C Cincinnati
Pizzuti Collection, Columbus

21C Oklahoma City
Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa
Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art, Tulsa

Oregon State University, Corvallis
Portland Art Museum, Portland
Pacific Northwest College of Art, Portland
Portland State University, Portland
Portland State College of the Arts, Portland

University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Monument Lab, Philadelphia
Mural Arts Philadelphia, Philadelphia
African American Museum in Philadelphia, Philadelphia
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia
Philadelphia Photo Arts Center, Philadelphia

Rhode Island
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence
City of Providence and Mary Beth Meehan, Providence

South Carolina
Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia

South Dakota
Northern State University, Aberdeen

Memphis College of Art, Memphis
Rhodes College, Memphis
Memphis Brooks Museum of Art
University of Memphis, Memphis

Menil Collection, Houston
Texas Southern University, Houston
Blue Star Contemporary, San Antonio
McNay Art Museum, San Antonio
Southwest School of Art, San Antonio
Texas State University Galleries, San Marcos

Utah State University, Logan
Summit Series, Powder Mountain

Bennington College, Bennington
Vermont College of Fine Arts, Montpelier

Jefferson School African American Heritage Center - Charlottesville
Office of Human Rights, Charlottesville
University of Virginia, Charlottesville
Randolph College, Lynchburg
Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk
Rutter Family Art Foundation, Norfolk
Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, Virginia Beach

Seattle Art Museum, Seattle
Photographic Center Northwest, Seattle

Washington, D.C.
Bully Pulpit Interactive, D.C.
George Washington University, D.C.
Uptown Art House, D.C.

West Virginia
The Clay Center, Charleston

University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison
Milwaukee Art Museum, Milwaukee
Demetrius Brooks (Independent Organizer), Milwaukee
Lynden Sculpture Garden, Milwaukee

University of Wyoming, Laramie

Above: Make America Great Again with Spider Martin, Pearl, MS, 2016. Courtesy of Wyatt Gallery / For Freedoms.

Left: Where do we go from here? with Project Row Houses x Houston Center of Photography x For Freedoms in Houston, TX, 2018. Courtesy of For Freedoms. Right: Mass Action with Nari Ward in Lexington, KY, 2016. Courtesy of Wyatt Gallery / For Freedoms.

For Freedoms started in 2016 as a platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists in the United States. Inspired by Norman Rockwell’s 1943 paintings of the four universal freedoms articulated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear—For Freedoms seeks to use art to deepen public discussions of civic issues and core values, and to clarify that citizenship in American society is deepened by participation, not by ideology.

For Freedoms is part of a rich history of artists employing means of mass communication to provoke political discourse. For Freedoms believes art, and artists, play an important role in galvanizing our society towards a more representative and transparent government. For Freedoms was awarded the 2017 ICP Infinity Award for New Media and Online Platform.

Kickstarter helps artists, musicians, filmmakers, designers, and other creators find the resources and support they need to make their ideas a reality. To date, tens of thousands of creative projects—big and small— have come to life with the support of the Kickstarter community. Since Kickstarter launched, on April 28, 2009, 14 million people have backed a project, $3.6 billion have been pledged, and 142,229 projects have been successfully funded.

Marcella Zimmermann
Vice President, Cultural Counsel

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