The largest public art campaign in the history of the United States features 52 artist designed billboards and had launched in September 2018 in all 50 states, including District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. The campaign is publicly funded, organized by For Freedoms, a project sponsored by non-profit arts and services organizations. The Guardian calls it, “one of the most ambitious public art projects ever.”
The Initative calls for 200 institutional partners and 250 public artists. The artists together produce billboards, lawn signs, town hall meetings and exhibitions to which will encourage participation and spark conversation about November’s midterm election.
Paton Kindle, Director of Arts at Kickstarter, says that he is excited to help take the first step in the right direction. “Both For Freedoms and Kickstarter seek to make art an integral part of society. Having 52 projects succeed under Kickstarter is an affirmation that the greater global community believes in the power of art to spark dialogue and participation.”
Each billboard is stapled with the For Freedoms logo, which leads people to find them online. Wyatt Gallery, the billboard director of For Freedoms, says, “it’s a huge sign of success, that people are willing to investigate it themselves.” There are more than 50 billboards in total which are singular and unique with the messages they convey. The boards will continue to be up until November but the public displays have been up since the beginning of September.
Among the 50 billboards is New York based photographer Marilyn Winter. Winter is known for her blurry portraits of women behind glass. She shows a piece which says ‘SAD!”, a common phrase used by President Donald Trump in tweets.
“I wanted to use and subvert a Trump adjective from the beginning,” she says. “It also describes the current state our country and administration and by using it, I was able to be as nasty as possible.”
Of course, while most of the billboards have political undertones, they all conquer different and controversial subjects in the political game. Luis Jacob is displaying his billboard in Vermont and calls it Land Acknowledgement, which reads Abenaki, a tribe in the local region.
Another one is located in Idaho and designed by Emily Hanako Momohara, which is about the incarceration of Japanese-American’s in the second world war. Momohara has a personal connection to the event– her family was incarcerated in southern Idaho at Minidoka.
Most of the billboards are displayed in rural areas. They aim to help American’s change their view on politics, art and advertising along highways.