Freedom of Speech was a large triptych of billboards by the New York-based collective For Freedoms, composed of artists Hank Willis Thomas and Emily Shur in collaboration with Eric Gottesman and Wyatt Gallery. This installation was part of a wider project, MONUMENTAL, curated by Black Cube in partnership with The Denver Theatre District.
The Denver Theatre District’s billboards on Champa Street feature a triptych of images depicting three interpretations of a town hall meeting portrayed in Norman Rockwell’s iconic 1943 Freedom of Speech painting. Rockwell’s painting was inspired by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms (1941)—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. In this series of photographs, the artists situate modern day citizens within Rockwell’s composition to reflect the diversity of American identities today. In a broad sense, these works look at common iconic imagery and how it continues to shape our understanding of historical memory and national identity.
MONUMENTAL, a series of public, contemporary artworks and community engagement programs that explore, question, and transform the role monuments play within society. MONUMENTAL is coproduced by Black Cube and The Denver Theatre District and funded in part by the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation and the David and Laura Merage Foundation. MONUMENTAL is on view July 12, 2019 through January 31, 2020, with the For Freedoms billboard extended through June 30, 2020.