We believe citizenship is defined by participation, not by ideology.

Through non-partisan nationwide programming, we use art as a vehicle for participation to deepen public discussions on civic issues and core values. We are a hub for artists, arts partners, and citizens who want to be more engaged in public life.

What we do

Billboards

For Freedoms outdoor activations invite artists to use the tools of art and advertising to encourage civic engagement. We believe that if artists’ voices replace advertising across the country, public discourse will become more nuanced.

Town Halls

Traditionally used by politicians as forums to connect with their constituencies, answer questions, and promote their campaigns, For Freedoms Town Halls provide safe platforms for conversations that seek to encourage a more active, collaborative, inclusive, and empathetic community. Town Halls bring together experts in various disciplines such as art, design, policy making, and community organizing in cities across the country to discuss issues related to freedom.

Exhibitions

For Freedoms exhibitions engage local perspectives on Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms: affirming the inalienable human rights of freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

Freedom Quilts

Lawn Signs

Participate

<p>In 2018, For Freedoms launched the largest creative collaboration in our nation&#x27;s history, the 50 State Initiative. During the midterm election season, we held over 700 concurrent decentralized public events across the country with over 250 partners that reflected a multiplicity of voices and sparked a national dialogue about art, education, commerce, and politics. On our platform, you’ll see all of the incredible activations that happened this past fall, in addition to others that the For Freedoms community continues to put on today.</p>

50 STATE INITIATIVE & BEYOND

In 2018, For Freedoms launched the largest creative collaboration in our nation's history, the 50 State Initiative. During the midterm election season, we held over 700 concurrent decentralized public events across the country with over 250 partners that reflected a multiplicity of voices and sparked a national dialogue about art, education, commerce, and politics. On our platform, you’ll see all of the incredible activations that happened this past fall, in addition to others that the For Freedoms community continues to put on today.

Community Feed

gallery

American Liberty

"Liberty and peace are living things. In each generation—if they are to be maintained—they must be guarded and vitalized anew." –President Franklin D. Roosevelt American Liberty is a campaign to remake a full-scale replica of the Statue of Liberty on the US-Mexican border, and by doing so providing us with an opportunity to re-examine what the meaning of liberty is to us in the current day. The definition of liberty cannot be final, as “it is a living thing”, one of constant debate and disagreement. For some liberty might mean having the right to build a wall, to protect their understanding of liberty. To us, liberty is "the right to remind ourselves the three important meanings of the Statue of Liberty—liberty, abolition, and welcome to immigrants from around the world—and by doing so hopefully injecting something positive into the political and cultural environment that has become so troubled today".
6
Dec
activation

Undocumented: Difference in America Today

Curated by Sherri Cornett and Dr. Aaron Rosen, this dual show featured internationally recognized artists MICHAEL TAKEO MAGRUDER and BENTLY SPANG. Each artist reflected on discourses of intolerance and belonging in the light of their family histories and current events, especially the crisis facing immigrants at the southern border of the United States.Michael Takeo Magruder "Zero Tolerance", a new media installation that explores the context and rhetoric surrounding the separation and incarceration of migrant families crossing the US southern border. Set behind chain-link fence and alongside mundane artefacts associated with the detention centers, an algorithmic video continually splices official government footage and undercover recordings from actual detainment facilities with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ public speech calling for ‘biblical’ justice. More information about Zero Tolerance at http://www.takeo.org/nspace/2018-zero-tolerance/?fbclid=IwAR2U2pdQz2Z_G6GtU74jNfCeq826fjGelKnveklwQUkoAD0y84-drEpAo0gMichael Takeo Magruder (b.1974, US/UK), of Japanese American decent, is a visual artist and researcher who works with new media including real-time data, digital archives, immersive environments, mobile devices and virtual worlds. His practice explores concepts ranging from media criticism and aesthetic journalism to digital formalism and computational aesthetics, deploying Information Age technologies and systems to examine our networked, media-rich world.Bently Spang, "Waiting to Hunt on ‘the White Man’s Land" reflects on the displacement of his people from their homeland by the U.S. government. In the video "Waiting to Hunt on ‘the White Man’s Land’" he documents the brief time each year when his people have the opportunity to hunt on their ancestral grounds. Bently Spang (b.1960, US) is an artist, educator, writer and curator, and an enrolled member of the Tsitsistas/Suhtai (Northern Cheyenne) Nation. A multi-disciplinary artist, Spang works in video, performance, installation, mixed-media sculpture, photography and drawing. Spang’s artwork documents the complexity of his daily traverse of multiple cultural terrains, a journey he documents with pragmatism, humor and deep introspection. He squarely confronts the personal, communal, environmental and cultural issues that emerge as race and place converge. For more information about this exhibition: https://www.sherricornett.com/undocumented-difference-in-america-today.html
December 6, 2018
Exhibition
18
Oct
activation

Dia de los Muertos: A Cultural Legacy, Past, Present, and Future

[Related Community Event]Dia de los Muertos: A Cultural Legacy, Past, Present, and Future Exhibition Northcutt Steele Gallery, Montana State University BillingsLeanne Gilbertson, PhD, Gallery Director and Asst. Professor of Art, MSU BillingsOriginated at Self Help Graphics in Los Angeles, this exhibition brings historical contextualization to the celebration and offers a forum to consider regional debates regarding cultural appropriation.The exhibition not only shares and contextualizes the cultural form of Día de los Muertos with the Billings community, but also introduces audiences to a successful community art and arts education project that has continued to evolve over 50 years in response to community needs and a changing climate related to diversity issues. SHG is a model community-based grassroots project that is noted for inspiring, training, and creating a supportive community for generations of Chicano artists. It continues to evolve as a community arts-based project offering innovative programming that links youth (including at risk youth) and adults with arts and culture and local artists and institutions. 
October 18, 2018
Exhibition
18
Oct
activation

Dia de los Muertos: A Cultural Legacy, Past, Present, and Future

[Related Community Event]Dia de los Muertos: A Cultural Legacy, Past, Present, and Future​Presentation and Conversation at Northcutt Steele Gallery at Montana State University BillingsBetty Avila, Co-Director of Self Help Graphics, Los Angeles, will discuss the Dia de los Muertos: A Cultural Legacy, Past, Present, and Future exhibition. Betty Avila is a native Angelano whose work has centered on the intersection of arts and social justice, with particular focus on community building, public space, and youth empowerments. A moderated conversation with members of the local Hispanic community, arts leaders, and MSUB students will follow.The presentation explores the mix of sacred indigenous tradition, Catholic influences, and pop culture in Day of the Dead imagery. Given recent popular attention to the celebration and regional debates regarding cultural appropriation, the evening offers a forum for campus and community to consider the celebration’s contemporary relevance for various audiences.
October 18, 2018
Exhibition Other Public Program
12
Oct
activation

The Southsiders

[Related Community Event]"The Southsiders" ."Explore the rich history of the south side! On this tour, we’ll look at the remnants of Billings’ railroad beginnings, see the influence of the sugar beet factory and learn about the role of South Park in our community."Note: The South Side has been the home to many of Billing’s under-represented communities
October 12, 2018
Other Public Program
20
Sep
activation

"The Victims of the Third Degree: Billings' Pre-Sedition Climate"

[Related Community Event]"The Victims of the Third Degree: Billings' Pre-Sedition Climate"“On the evening of November 9, 1917, Billings’ newly formed Third Degree Committee accused three citizens of pro-German sympathies. They forced the resignation of a city council member, a state renowned architect, and required a south side butcher to restate his oath to the United States. None of these men had prior criminal charges or incidents in Billings, so how did these charges come about? In this presentation, we’ll analyze the events surrounding this night and look at how Billings was not immune to fears of German infiltration.”
September 20, 2018
Public Program
15
Sep
activation

“Contemporary Art in its Contexts: What is the Role of the Museum Now?”

[Related Community Event]Mountain Plains Museum Association conference panel“Contemporary Art in its Contexts: What is the Role of the Museum Now?”Closing LuncheonModerator, Leanne Gilbertson, PhD, Gallery Director and Asst. Professor of Art, MSU Billings, Artists: Bently Spang, (Northern Cheyenne) Wendy Red Star (Crow), Patrick Zentz, Tyson MiddleA moderated discussion about contemporary art and its relationship to placemaking and community building in the region. The work of each of these artists presents unique challenges to museum curators—how do public art installations, video and electronic works, multi-media dance performance, and graffiti art challenge and expand the role of the museum in today’s cultural landscape? The innovative and challenging works of these four artists intersects, recasts, and confronts many of the traditional roles of our regional cultural institutions. How might the museums of today accommodate the flow of relevant new ideas that fall outside of conventional norms mediated by the art market?
September 15, 2018
Other
13
Sep
activation

What Freedom Means Banner Project

Who: Club Art Collective of MSU BillingsFacilitator: Angel Shandy, President, Club Art Collective, Montana State University BillingsClub Art Collective members Angel Shandy, Kari Adams, Casey O'Malley, Morgan Syring and Emma Berry created this large canvas mural, which was installed at the two Town Hall events and the Pop-up Exhibition of Freedom Lawn Signs.
September 13, 2018
Other
5
Oct
activation

Art Walk Downtown Billings

WHAT: A pop-up exhibition of the Freedom Lawn Signs created at our town hall events and the What Freedom Means banner created by MSUB's Art Club Collective. LOCATION: First Congregational Church, pocket parkFacilitator: Sherri CornettMore information about activations in Billings, MT at https://www.sherricornett.com/for-freedoms-billings.html
October 5, 2018
50StatePartner Exhibition Lawn Signs
15
Sep
activation

Free To Be Me: Diversity on Campus

Facilitator: Reverend Dwight Welch/United Campus Ministry, Montana State University BillingsFacilitation assisted by Sherri Cornett (Artist/Project Director, for Freedoms 50 State Initiative Billings)Community discussion: about discoveries made while sharing our stories and identities facilitated by Rev. Dwight R. Welch of United Campus Ministry, and Parsa Hajy Abbasi (student from Iran), Tristen Belgrade (student from Rocky Boy (student from Chippewa-Cree tribe), Morgan Syring (MSUB Art Club Collective), Mitch Bohn (speaking from disabled student perspective), Jen Lynn (MSUB Women's and Gender Studies) and Patricia Vettel-Becker (MSUB Art Department Chair). Parsa spoke about learning to acknowledge, not oppose, when people misunderstood him because of his language and that he chose to become an ambassador for his culture. Tristen spoke about learning to expect racism, but not to let it stop him from his goals, despite historical efforts to make his people extinct. Morgan grew up in small towns with a single mother who emphasized supportive, civil listening and the importance of accumulating knowledge of others, Mitch told us about how fellow students expected that he must be in special education because he is in a wheelchair, but that accessibility is growing on campus. Patricia and Jen said that, since 2016, there is more intentional inclusivity and efforts to be more vocal for humanity and human rights. Dwight suggested we watch MLK's "What is Your Life's Blueprint" speech to middle school students. Inspired by politician’s campaign signage, For Freedoms lawn signs were available for participants to produce and publicly display their own definition of freedom by filling out signs that say: Freedom Of..., Freedom From..., Freedom For..., and Freedom To…Discussion followed by creation and installation of Freedom signs on the Free Speech Lawn at MSUB with a nonsecular ritual. More information about activations in Billings, MT at https://www.sherricornett.com/for-freedoms-billings.html
September 15, 2018
50StatePartner Lawn Signs Town Hall
4
Oct
activation

The Dinners Project

WHAT: The Dinners Project was designed to bring together artists and other creatives to explore the role of art and our creative minds in building a strong democracy and imagining a better future. On the weekend of Oct 4-7 people gathered all across the country to break bread and discuss art and democracy. The Dinners Project is a non-partisan initiative of Creative Capital, in partnership with For Freedoms 50 State Initiative and #LoveArmy. Artists have always played a key role in how societies and cultures evolve–now is no different. In challenging times artists can lead the way. This is a time for imagination and vision. This is a time for our creative vision.The goals of the #DinnerProject are to amplify the efforts of artists and creative who are spearheading civic and social change; build and strengthen relationships; have engaging and inspiring conversations and spark new projects and collaborations.WHERE: First Congregational Church, Community Room, 310 N 27th St, Billings, MT 59101PARTICIPANTS: Sharon Forman, Damin Johnson, Phoebe Knapp, Linda Lemire, Tracy Linder, Angel Shandy, Bently Spang, Dixie Yelvington, Yungben Yelvington, Shelly YoungFACILITATED BY: Sherri CornettACTIONS:Create database/website/document that:Identifies Creative Organizations, Collectives, Museums, and other Entities in Billings to encourage a greater collective/united front in support of local issues [name, website, social media, contact person, contact info, mission/description, physical address...]Identifies how, reasons, where art connects to other community needs or could do soAs a community resourceMore information about activations in Billings, MT at https://www.sherricornett.com/for-freedoms-billings.html
October 4, 2018
50StatePartner Dinner
13
Sep
activation

Native American Race Relations and Healing

Moderator: Russell Rowland, Co-Director of this seriesFacilitation assisted Sherri Cornett (Artist Director/For Freedoms 50 State Initiative Billings).Russell Rowland led a discussion with former Northern Cheyenne Tribal Chairman and current tribal judge John Robinson,  a member of the Kit Fox Warrior Society and veteran of the United States Army as well as a participant at Wounded Knee and the occupation of Alcatraz, and Carolyn Pease-Lopez, who represented District 42 of the Montana State Legislature for four terms, where she serves on the Agriculture, Human Services, Judiciary, and Legislative Administration committees. She was recently instrumental in preventing the passage of House Bill 615, which would have allowed county clerks to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, on the grounds that this kind of discrimination would spread to the way she and her people are treated as well. She is a native of Crow Agency, Table discussion leaders included Jade Bahr, Jen Lynn (Ph.D/Women and Gender Studies/MSUBillings) and Sonia Davis (SURJ Billings).We welcomed all voices and points of view in respectful conversation and encouraged questions and active listening as we sought to broaden our understanding of freedom in our community.Topics included: the entrepreneurship, problem solving creativity of native peoples, how tribes are reclaiming their languages, support for their sovereignty, how the Marshall Trilogy set up tribes in dependent status, response to shame can be either anger or humbleness, the need for non-natives to support their sovereignty, seeking out the humanity in others, the effects of generational trauma, tribal colleges ...Inspired by politician’s campaign signage, For Freedoms lawn sign were available for  participants to produce and publicly display their own definition of freedom by filling out signs that say: Freedom Of..., Freedom From..., Freedom For..., and Freedom To…Lawn signs were created to be installed on the Freedom of Speech lawn at MSU Billings during the Free to Be Me: Diversity at MSUB Town Hall, Saturday, September 15th, 2:30 - 4:30, MSUBillings Student Union Building, Rooms A & BHeld at: Billings Public Library, Community RoomMore information about activations in Billings, MT at https://www.sherricornett.com/for-freedoms-billings.html
September 13, 2018
50StatePartner Lawn Signs Public Program Town Hall

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