For the first time, the crowd founding platform Kickstarter could give birth to the biggest public Art project the United States have ever known. It is an initiative by Artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman for a non partisan and social project in the 50 American States.
A nationwide project
The platform For Freedoms is dedicated to civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for Artists in the United States. This nonprofit organization was founded by Artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman. These two Artists made themselves a name in the international Fine Arts market with exhibitions in the greatest international institutions such as Bilbao’s Guggenheim in Spain. The project they implemented through the platform For Freedoms is entitled “50 States, 50 Billboards.” In fact, the idea is to obtain the participation of 50 American States. As a result, the idea is to promote civic society engagement in favor of keeping an open- mind through Art. The project started in 2016 and the crowd founding campaign launched via Kickstarter will end on July 3rd 2018. “Our goal is not to support a political party or push a partisan agenda, but to empower everyone across the United States to feel welcome in civic conversations” said the organizers.
An unprecedented participation of American institutions
According to Eric Gottesman “At the base of this [project] is a desire to increase the quality of civic conversations and inject art into public discourse (…). The scale of it matches what our intentions are”. However, it is an initiative that comes soon after the presidential candidates Bernie Sanders and Rand Paul campaigns. Like the two former candidates, the “50 States, 50 Billboards” project seems to benefit from the same type of sympathy from cultural institutions. In fact, close to 200 museums and cultural organizations have already participated in the project. It includes de Brooklyn Museum which activist Director just faced some controversies as mentioned in Art-Trope’s article. Between 300 to 500 Artists are expected to get involved in the project. Among the Artists, Carrie Mae Weems, Trevor Paglen, Tania Bruguera, Marilyn Minter and Rashid Johnson will propose their Artworks in September 2018.
Make Art the core of the public debate
“We already believe that museums are doing civic work and Artists are doing civic work, but it’s not seen that way, and that’s why it’s not seen as sometimes important—it’s sometimes seen as frivolous,” reminds Hank Willis Thomas. He added: “but if we think that we [as artists and cultural organizations] are the think-tank of tomorrow (…).” The participating organizations of the American States have already, for the most part, implemented programs, events and definite cultural initiatives. It is the case of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, the Charlottesville Office of Human Rights and the Jefferson School African American Heritage Center. Indeed, these institutions put together a series of project focused on slavery history and racism that is still present both in the city and the State. The two Artists’ project is a way to give all a nationwide echo.
Read our article about the participation of Photographer Guillaume Dimanche to the erotic drawing Salon in Paris here.