To coincide with Indigenous Peoples’ Day on Monday (October 12), Hank Willis Thomas‘s For Freedoms collective is taking to the sides of roads, streets, and highways this Indigenous Peoples’ Day, placing artist-created billboards with powerful messages in all 50 states as well as Puerto Rico, Guam, Samoa, and the US Virgin Islands. Aiming to engage with the general public while promoting the civic joy and thought, the billboards are designed by over 70 artists, including the Guerrilla Girls, Maggie Rogers, Shepard Fairey, and the Donald Judd Foundation.
Each billboard is part of For Freedoms’ current campaign, the 2020 AWAKENING. A year-long effort, the 2020 AWAKENING is inspired by the Wide Awakes – a group of abolitionists from 1860 who used community-based methods to confront partisan instability, which eventually leads to the election of Abraham Lincoln.
Willis Thomas is undoubtedly no stranger to powerful public art displays. In September, he projected writings of incarcerated individuals affected by the COVID-19 coronavirus onto the Brooklyn Public Library walls. In August, he spotlighted racial justice in an extensive mid-career survey at the Cincinnati Art Museum.