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Eric Gottesman's Political-Art Campaign 'For Freedoms' Earns ICP Infinity Award, Residency at MoMA/PS1

Gottesman and project partner Hank Willis Thomas are honored with the leading award for achievement in photography and the visual arts

For his political-art campaign launched during the 2016 presidential election, Hampshire Visiting Professor Eric Gottesman will be honored next month by the International Center of Photography (ICP) with an Infinity Award, the leading distinction for achievement in photography and the visual arts.

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Gottesman and project partner Hank Willis Thomas are being recognized for cofounding For Freedoms, the first artist-led Super PAC (political action committee) to use art to spur political engagement. They invited artists to partner with them in creating advertisements, exhibits, and other works to spark discussions around democratic values and freedoms.

On the committee’s Website, the founders explain, “We created the first artist-run super PAC because we believe it’s time for artists to become more involved in the political process.”

Among past recipients of Infinity Awards have been Richard Avedon, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Annie Leibovitz, Gordon Parks, Sebastião Salgado, Cindy Sherman, Duane Michals, Daidō Moriyama, Zanele Muholi, James Nachtwey, Shirin Neshat, Mario Testino, and Ai Weiwei. ICP is the world’s leading institution dedicated to photography and visual culture.

For Freedoms has grown in recognition since the election. The Museum of Modern Art, in New York City, is currently hosting For Freedoms as an artist residency at its Queens site, MoMA PS1, running during the first 100 days of the new presidential administration. The residency began with the display of a billboard that For Freedoms created and posted in Mississippi, and is evolving organically over the course of the project, which runs through April 19.

The For Freedoms residency space at PS1 will host a public Town Hall on the state of federal arts funding on Friday, March 17, at 1 p.m., in partnership with Creative Capital, the philanthropic organization supporting projects through a commitment to freedom of expression.

Last month Gottesman and Thomas were profiled by the New York Times Style Magazine in its feature about contemporary protest art, "Protest Art in the Era of Trump."

Gottesman and Thomas will be among those honored at the 33rd-annual ICP Infinity Awards in New York City the evening of Monday, April 24. Among others to be honored, Harry Benson will be recognized for Lifetime Achievement. Sponsored by Hearst, the event expects to draw more than 500 attendees from the worlds of art, business, entertainment, fashion, philanthropy, and photography.

Eric Gottesman, a visiting associate professor in Film, Photography, and Video at Hampshire, is currently teaching two classes, Photography As Translation (pictured below), and The Photobook and Beyond. He photographs, writes, makes videos, teaches, and uses art as a vehicle to engage people in critical conversations about social structures. He is also a visiting professor at Addis Ababa University School of Fine Arts and a mentor in the Arab Documentary Photography Project. His work is held in various collections, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Hank Willis Thomas is a photo-conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to identity, history, and popular culture and has exhibited throughout the United States and abroad. His work can be found in numerous public collections: at the Museum of Modern Art New York, for example, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the High Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C.

Rounding out the For Freedoms team are photographer Wyatt Gallery; nonprofit arts organization strategic-planning and development consultant Dena Muller; art historian and business consultant Michelle Woo; and Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels, a director at the Jack Shainman Gallery.


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Eric Gottesman teaching Photography As Translation MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. Photo of Bloody Sunday in 1965 Alabama by Spider Martin. A political-art billboard by Wyatt Gallery and For Freedoms For Freedoms residency at MoMA PS1 Eric Gottesman teaching Photography As Translation
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