The exhibition is co-curated by Lorie Novak and Deborah Willis with Riana Gideon, assistant curator.

State of Affairs, ©Chester Higgins, 2018

NYU Tisch Department of Photography and Imaging in collaboration with For Freedoms’ 50 State Initiative presents cit.i.zen.ship: reflections on rights with photographs, works on paper, and video that reflect on human rights and notions of citizenship by a multigenerational group of approximately 70 artists. The exhibition is co-curated by Lorie Novak and Deborah Willis with Riana Gideon, assistant curator.

The exhibition will be installed in the Photography & Imaging Galleries in the lobby and the 8th floor at Tisch School of the Arts, 721 Broadway (at Waverly Place) and will remain on view through January 18, 2019. The opening reception will be held on October 4 at 6 p.m.

“To accept one’s past — one’s history,” wrote James Baldwin in The Fire Next Time, “is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.” The theme of the exhibition reminds us that our actions today will affect the future, just as the actions of courageous individuals during the Civil Rights Movement changed the world.

Conceptually and characteristically, each of the artists uses different symbolic references to visually represent the definable issues surrounding civil rights, resistance, immigration, race, class, gentrification, gender equality, LGBTQ+ rights, prison reform, freedom of speech, and more. Each artist uses documentation, process, history, and personal experience to engage the politics of this nation and pave the way for new narratives in the future.

Since 2016, For Freedoms has produced special exhibitions, town hall meetings, billboards, and lawn sign installations to spur greater participation in civic life. This year, For Freedoms launched its 50 State Initiative, a new phase of programming to encourage broad participation and inspire conversation around November’s midterm elections.

Building off of the existing artistic infrastructure in the United States, For Freedoms has developed a network of over 300 artists and 200 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, For Freedoms hopes that these exhibitions and related projects will model how arts institutions can become civic forums for action and discussion of values, place, and patriotism.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays, and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission is free. Photo identification is required for access to the building. For more information, visit, email, or call 212.998.1930.

***Reporters looking to attend the opening reception on Thursday, October 4 from 6 p.m.–8 p.m. can email Cheryl Feliciano at***

About The Department of Photography and Imaging at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts

The Department of Photography and Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts is a four-year BFA program centered on the making and understanding of images. Students explore photobased imagery as personal and cultural expression. Situated within New York University, the program offers students both the intensive focus of an arts curriculum and a serious and broad grounding in the liberal arts.

About For Freedoms

For Freedoms is a platform for greater participation in the arts and in civil society, producing exhibitions, installations, public programs, and billboard campaigns to advocate for inclusive civic participation. 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 Federation uses art to encourage and deepen public explorations of freedom in the 21st century. Founded by Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms Federation encourages new forms of critical discourse. The mission is to use art as a vehicle to build greater participation in American Democracy.

Press Contact

Cheryl Feliciano
Cheryl Feliciano
(212) 998-6865