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The Four Freedoms returned and re-imagined
December 31, 2020 @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
An event every week that begins at 10:00 am on Sunday, Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, repeating until January 17, 2021
The first comprehensive exhibition on Norman Rockwell’s depictions of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms — Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear and Freedom from Want — is returning to New England this fall after a six-city international tour with two new companion shows, Reimagining the Four Freedoms and the Unity Project.
Norman Rockwell: Imagining Freedom explores how the 1943 paintings came to be embraced by millions of Americans, providing crucial aid to the War effort and taking their place among the most indelible images in the history of American art. The power of images to shape cultural narratives is revealed in this exhibition, which invites viewers to trace the origins and legacy of the Four Freedoms from the trials of the Great Depression and World War II to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and the call for freedom today across racial, gender, ethnic, and religious lines.
Curated by James J. Kimble, Ph.D. of Seton Hall University and Stephanie Haboush Plunkett, the Museum’s Deputy Director and Chief Curator, Imagining Freedom encourages conversation about many of the country’s most pressing social concerns and invites visitors to consider how the country can unite in the creation of a more humane world. The exhibition also encourages reflection on what the Four Freedoms mean in today’s social, political and cultural landscape.
More than 40 Rockwell artworks are joined by paintings, drawings, photography, artifacts, and writings from artists across the decades in the expression of freedom, including Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Arthur Rothstein, Mead Schaeffer, Arthur Szyk, Martha Sawyers, Langston Hughes, Thomas Lea, Boris Artzybasheff, and Denys Wortman, among others.
Reimagining the Four Freedoms, a multi-media exhibition component, presents new perspectives by 38 contemporary artists who explore society’s hopes and aspirations for a free and just world. Highlighted among them, Maurice Pops Peterson has created a vision for a new age.
In The Unity Project, acclaimed artists Mai Ly Degnan, Rudy Gutierrez, Anita Kunz, Tim O’Brien, Whitney Sherman and Yuko Shimizu offer a series of original poster illustrations commissioned by the Museum by to inspire Americans to exercise their rights by voting in the upcoming national election and to establish a camaraderie of unity and belonging among all Americans.
The Unity Project’s six compelling illustrations reflect each artist’s personal voice and showcase a diverse range of artistic approach to create motivational art through illustrated posters and imagery.
“In this piece, I wanted to illustrate a scene of strong women performing their civic duty of voting in this time of utmost uncertainty,” said artist Mai Ly Degnan. “Using colorful masks, I wanted to illustrate women “defending democracy,” highlighting and acknowledging the fact that we are in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic. The word VOTE on the individual masks is there to symbolize this is not the time to be silent or sit this one out. With the world in chaos, as a nation we have no choice.”
“I wanted to create a poster that is unapologetically American, powerful and hopeful. This is a portrait of a contemporary woman of color as a Lady Liberty Superheroine,” said artist Yuko Shimizu.
“When thinking about voting today, I’m mindful of the need to be vigilant, to make the effort on all election contests local to federal, and to the energetic beauty that comes from everyone doing their part to be good citizens,” said artist Whitney Sherman. “To vote means to participate in the experiment of democracy, an experiment that doesn’t continue on its own. It needs each and every one of us to exist.”