Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul: Selections from the Light Work Collection is guest-curated by For Freedoms, a platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists in the United States, co-founded in 2016 by former Light Work artists-in-residence Eric Gottesman and Hank Willis Thomas. Since then, For Freedoms has produced exhibitions, town hall meetings, and public art to spur greater participation in civic life. On their motivations for starting For Freedoms, Gottesman states, “Our hope was to spark dialogue about our collective civic responsibility to push for freedom and justice today, as those before us pushed for freedom and justice in their time through peaceful protest and political participation.”
Borrowing its title from the Charles Biasiny-Rivera piece of the same name, Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul features more than forty photographs from the Light Work Collection that explore topics of politics, social justice, identity, and visibility.These subjects have remained significant for Light Work and many of the artists we have supported over our forty-five year history. The list of artists includes: Laura Aguilar, George Awde, Karl Baden, Lois Barden and Harry Littell, Claire Beckett, Charles Biasing-Rivera, Samantha Box, Deborah Bright, Chan Chao, Renee Cox, Rose Marie Cromwell, Jen Davis, Jess Dugan, John Edmonds, Amy Elkins, Nereyda Garcia Ferraz, Jennifer Garza-Cuen, Antony Gleaton, Jim Goldberg, David Graham, Mahtab Hussain, Osamu James Nakagawa, Tommy Kha, Pipo Nguyen-Duy, Deana Lawson, Mary Mattingly, Jackie Nickerson, Shelley Niro, Suzanne Opton, Kristine Potter, Ernesto Pujol, Irina Rozovsky, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Kanako Sasaki, Pacifico Silano, Clarissa Sligh, Beuford Smith, Amy Stein, Mila Teshaieva, Brian Ulrich, Ted Wathen, Carrie Mae Weems, Carla Williams, Hank Willis Thomas, Pixy Yijun Liao.
This catalog includes an introduction by Light Work’s director Shane Lavalette and an essay by For Freedoms co-founder Eric Gottesman.
Founded in 2016 by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms is a platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists. Inspired by American artist Norman Rockwell’s paintings of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms (1941)—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear—For Freedoms’ exhibitions, installations, and public programs use art to deepen public discussions on civic issues and core values, and to advocate for equality, dialogue, and civic participation. As a nexus between art, politics, commerce, and education, For Freedoms aims to inject anti-partisan, critical thinking that fine art requires into the political landscape through programming, exhibitions, and public artworks.
The 50 State Initiative is a nationwide program taking place from September through November of 2018 during the lead-up to the midterm elections. Building off of the exist- ing artistic infrastructure in the United States, For Freedoms has developed a network of artists and 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, we hope that these exhibitions and related projects will model how arts institutions can become civic forums for action and discussion of values, place, and patriotism.