Tuesday, Nov. 6, is the day.
The one that all those memes, advertisements, articles and social media posts have been about. It’s the day of the 2018 midterm election.
The fate of all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 35 of 100 seats in the Senate and 39 state governorships are in the hands of voters — not to mention all the other state and local races, propositions and initiatives that will be on ballots across the country.
The results of this election could change the political face of our entire country. People just have to be informed, show up, and vote.
And that’s exactly what For Freedoms has been pushing for. Apolitical and nonpartisan, the organization has been hosting town halls, art installations and other civic-engagement events across the United States since June. It also has launched the largest public art initiative the nation has ever seen.
“We hope that this project will contribute to public conversation leading up to the upcoming midterm elections by serving as a mechanism to promote civic participation, to encourage discourse, and to reconsider the role that art and creativity can play in our everyday lives,” says Taylor Brock, who spearheaded the initiative.
Since L.A. Weekly first covered the project’s launch in June, the organization has placed more than 150 billboards, created by 400-plus artists, in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. For Freedoms has created billboards with work by luminaries including Theaster Gates, David Byrne, Dread Scott, Edgar Arceneaux, Guerrilla Girls, Susan Meiselas, and Zoe Buckman. In Los Angeles, we have two billboards: one by Rashid Johnson and one by Paula Crown.
You’ve probably seen Rashid Johnson’s conceptual, “post-black” “Untitled” billboard above Undefeated, at the corner of La Brea and First Street.
Paula Crown’s anti–gun violence piece, “Thoughts & Prayers,” is making a stunning statement in Illinois and Wyoming (which has the highest number of guns per capita). Her “Hurt People Hurt People,” on display at Crenshaw Boulevard and West 59th Place in Hyde Park, offers a more reflective message tailored for Angelenos.
“The billboard is a call to our fellow citizens for empathy. … Hopefully understanding and compassion can break a cycle of hurt,” Crown says. Ultimately, she hopes the statement will remind viewers to react to their circumstances in a more measured fashion, especially Angelenos trying to make sense of the current political climate. “Pause (and) take a moment to evaluate the painful situation,” she instructs in a statement about the billboard. “Process what is happening with facts. Open your brain and heart to understanding the points of views of others. Prevent through support groups, family or counseling future abuse and break the cycle of hurt.”
On Oct. 10, For Freedoms partnered with NeueHouse Hollywood to produce a town hall-style event discussing the way artists have been galvanized by this cause. Speakers included Sol Guy, Union's Chris Gibbs, Ernesto Yerena and Sexy Beast L.A. They have many more such events scheduled with partners throughout the country right up until Election Day itself.
“We like to refer to ourselves anti-partisan. We're not about being on teams — anything that happens on Nov. 6 is going to affect each and every one of us,” Brock says. “How can we create a conversation that recognizes this shared outcome, or shared humanity, as the centerfold of our political system rather than our differences? Art intentionally asks the questions — it's up to us to turn to one another in order to determine the answers.”
#GoVote on Nov. 6.
Read more on the National For Freedoms Project.