Light Work is pleased to announce Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul: Selections from the Light Work Collection. The exhibition is guest-curated by For Freedoms, a platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists in the United States, co-founded in 2016 by former Light Work artists-in-residence Eric Gottesman and Hank Willis Thomas. Since then, For Freedoms has produced exhibitions, town hall meetings, and public art to spur greater participation in civic life. On their motivations for starting For Freedoms, Gottesman states, “Our hope was to spark dialogue about our collective civic responsibility to push for freedom and justice today, as those before us pushed for freedom and justice in their time through peaceful protest and political participation.”
Borrowing its title from the Charles Biasiny-Rivera piece of the same name, Be Strong and Do Not Betray Your Soul features more than forty photographs from the Light Work Collection that explore topics of politics, social justice, identity, and visibility. These subjects have remained significant for Light Work and many of the artists we have supported over our forty-five year history. The list of artists includes: Laura Aguilar, George Awde, Karl Baden, Lois Barden and Harry Littell, Claire Beckett, Charles Biasing-Rivera, Samantha Box, Deborah Bright, Chan Chao, Renee Cox, Rose Marie Cromwell, Jen Davis, Jess Dugan, John Edmonds, Amy Elkins, Nereyda Garcia Ferraz, Jennifer Garza-Cuen, Antony Gleaton, Jim Goldberg, David Graham, Mahtab Hussain, Osamu James Nakagawa, Tommy Kha, Pipo Nguyen-Duy, Deana Lawson, Mary Mattingly, Jackie Nickerson, Shelley Niro, Suzanne Opton, Kristine Potter, Ernesto Pujol, Irina Rozovsky, Alessandra Sanguinetti, Kanako Sasaki, Pacifico Silano, Clarissa Sligh, Beuford Smith, Amy Stein, Mila Teshaieva, Brian Ulrich, Ted Wathen, Carrie Mae Weems, Carla Williams, Hank Willis Thomas, Pixy Yijun Liao.
In addition to the selections of work on view at Light Work, we have collaborated with For Freedoms to display a series of billboards throughout the city of Syracuse created by internationally-renowned artists Zoe Buckman, Eric Gottesman, Carrie Mae Weems, and Hank Willis Thomas. These billboards use photography and text to address social issues and our political climate. This exhibition and related programming coincide with The 50 State Initiative, an ambitious new phase of For Freedoms Fall 2018 programming, during the lead-up to the midterm elections. Building off of the existing artistic infrastructure in the United States, For Freedoms has developed a network of artists and institutional partners, including Light Work, 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, these exhibitions, and related projects will model how arts institutions can become civic forums for action.