Memphis College of Art (MCA) joins other local institutions – Brooks Museum of Art, University of Memphis, Christian Brothers University, and Rhodes College – to encourage civic engagement and voter participation through the For Freedoms 50 State Initiative, a nationwide campaign inspired by Norman Rockwell’s paintings of FDR’s four universal freedoms–freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, freedom from fear. The collective Memphis efforts were sparked by activist artist Hank Willis Thomas’ visit to MCA’s campus last fall. Thomas is a co-founder of the For Freedoms initiative.
MCA’s events kick-off with a Voter Registration Event on National Voter Registration Day (Tuesday, September 25) and continue with an exhibition, panel discussion, and film screening. Full details here and below:
Voter Registration Event
September 25, 2018
Open to the Public
MCA will be hosting a Voter Registration Event on National Voter Registration Day. This event is open to the public – everyone is welcome! A representative from the Shelby County Election Commission will be helping community members register to vote and register for out-of-state voting. Your vote matters. Join us to make sure that it counts!
For Freedoms Exhibition – A•GEN•CY: A Home in the World
On view: October 12 – November 4
Reception & Film Screening: Friday, November 2 from 6-8pm, with a Kevin Brooks Film Screening
Curated by Lester Julian Merriweather
A•GEN•CY: A Home in the World is an exploration of what it means to be a free person of color within the current experiment of American democracy. The intention of A•GEN•CY is to examine two pillars of the For Freedoms platform: Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear.
For Freedoms is a platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists in the United States. In a world where there can be potentially narrow expectations concerning how artists of color address the construct of race in historical terms, this exhibition takes a different approach. The works in A•GEN•CY express ideas around the freedom to be a person of color living in a viscerally racialized America. A•GEN •CY examines ways people of color thrive in a moment where the concept of race is used as a weapon against them.
Participating artists include: Kenny Wayne Alexander, Sheila Pree Bright, Michael Paul Britto, Kevin Brooks, Janaye Brown, Tommy Kha, Lawrence Matthews III, Carl Moore, Andrea Morales, Catherine Patton, Xaviera Simmons, and Jade Thiraswas.
MCA Gallery hours are as follows: Weekdays from 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m, Saturdays from 9 a.m.–4 p.m, and Sundays from noon-4 p.m.
For Freedoms Panel Discussion: Freedom of Expression
October 25, 2018
Callicott Auditiorium, Rust Hall, MCA
6:00pm Panel Discussion
In conjunction with the For Freedoms 50 State Initiative and For Freedoms Exhibition: A•GEN•CY, creatives, curators, and a collector discuss what Freedom means in 2018.
Moderator: Amber Hamilton- Chief Operations and Strategy Officer, Memphis Music Initiative
Elliot Perry- Art Collector, Former NBA Player & Senior Advisor For The PPF Art Collection
Lawrence Matthews III- Multidisciplinary Artist, Filmmaker & Musician
Andrea Morales- Photographer/ Documentary Photojournalist
Kimberly Jacobs- Joyce Blackmon Curatorial Fellow in African American Art and Art of the African Diaspora, Brooks Museum of Art
Lester Julian Merriweather- Artist & Curatorial Consultant, Curator, A•GEN•CY
About 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.
50 State Initiative Project
Since 2016, For Freedoms has produced special exhibitions, town hall meetings, billboards, and lawn sign installations to spur greater participation in civic life. This year, For Freedoms launched its 50 State Initiative, a new phase of programming to encourage broad participation and inspire conversation around November’s midterm elections.
Building off of the existing artistic infrastructure in the United States, For Freedoms has developed a network of over 300 artists and 200 institutional partners who will produce nationwide public art installations, exhibitions and local community dialogues in order to inject nuanced, artistic thinking into public discourse. Centered around the vital work of artists, For Freedoms hopes that these exhibitions and related projects will model how arts institutions can become civic forums for action and discussion of values, place, and patriotism.