To coincide with International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, artist-designed billboards have been installed in all 50 US states today.
This is For Freedoms' latest large-scale guerrilla artwork — they've tapped the late Donald Judd, Guerrilla Girls, Ai Weiwei, Hank Willis Thomas, Paul Ramirez Jonas, and a host of other big-name artists and collectives as part of the nation-wide project, which aims to reshape conversations about politics.
Founded in 2016 by Hank Willis Thomas, Eric Gottesman, Michelle Woo, and Wyatt Gallery, For Freedoms' first national public art project occurred ahead of the 2016 election, using billboards to draw a line between Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign rhetoric and the country's history of racial violence.
This time around, graphic works line roads in all 50 US states as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands as part of the larger “2020 Awakening.” Today's powerful civic engagement comes on the heels of their leading role in the 2020 Wide Awakes march.
For Freedoms movement found inspiration for their coordinated acts of "civic joy" in the 1860 Wide Awakes youth organization that mobilized against slavery and helped elect Lincoln.
The original Wide Awakes were led by young men, and some women, who didn't yet have the right to vote. They would appear at popular social events and distribute promotional comic books and art ephemera. The group appealed to a younger generation of voters who — much like today — were unimpressed by the political infighting of the left and the regressive policies of the right.
Inspired by the 19th century Wide Awakes, today's organizers believe that, "creativity can help us find our voice and that widening civic participation leads to abundant and substantive transformation."
Visit the Wide Awakes website to learn about their global participatory events that are happening in the lead-up to the US election and beyond.