The Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University is proud to be one of many distinguished arts organizations throughout the country participating in the momentous For Freedoms 50 State Initiative. Founded by artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, For Freedoms was inspired by Norman Rockwell’s 1943 paintings of the four universal freedoms articulated by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1941—freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear.

The museum is actively participating in For Freedoms through the display of four works of art from its permanent collection. The works will be identified with special gallery signage and the For Freedoms logo, prompting visitors to consider the power of art in the context of a democracy. In addition to the artworks on display, two programs in the Community Films and Conversations series will be branded as For Freedoms initiatives and will include voter registration opportunities hosted by the League of Women Voters of East Alabama.

Logo For Freedoms 50 State Initiative
Leopoldo Méndez The Revolutionary, 1946 Linocut Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University; Robert B. Ekelund Jr. and Mark Thornton Collection

Freedom of Speech

The title of this print is “The Revolutionary.”

  • What do you assume about the action in this scene?
  • Where is the viewer placed in relation to the young man?
  • How is holding his body? Think about his shoulders, chest, and chin
  • Describe the expression on his face.

Leopold Méndez, The Revolutionary, 1946, Linocut, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, The Robert B. Ekelund and Mark Thornton Collection.

Freedom from Fear Christina Cordova (American, b. 1976) Mi Familia, 2010 ceramic and metal wire Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University Museum purchase with funds from the 1072 Society

Freedom from Fear

Our first feelings of security come from our relationships with our families.

  • Think about how the figures are arranged?
  • What besides the title suggests that this group is a family?
  • How do the people feel? How do you know?
  • What might the metal birds represent?

Christina Cordova, Mi Familia, 2010, ceramic and metal wire, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, Museum purchase with funds from the 1072 Society.

Seated Figure of Gautama Buddha China, Ming Dynasty, Yongle era, 1403 – 1425 Gilt bronze Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art at Auburn University. The Joan Cousins Hartman Collection of Tibetan Bronzes.

Freedom of Worship

Inscribed on the top of the lotus platform is “Da Ming Yunglo nien shi,” or “Done (or donated) in the Yongle era of the Great Ming Dynasty).” This sculpture was sent from the Ming court as an offering to a ranking member of the Buddhist religious community in Tibet. The reason this sculpture and other Tibetan religious artifacts came into personal and public collections in the mid-twentieth century is that the Chinese People’s republic annexed Tibet in 1950 and began a systematic suppression of Tibetan culture and Buddhist practice. Temples and monasteries were destroyed, and many deconsecrated religious artifacts came onto the art market. This object is an essential example of the importance of JCSM’s mission to preserve, enhance, research, and interpret works of art in our collection. The Buddha, situated on a lotus platform, reaches down with his right hand to touch the ground. This gesture is recognized in Tibetan Buddhist iconography as an invocation for the earth deity to bear witness to his awakening.

  • What parts of the sculpture convey spirituality and enlightenment?
  • Think about the material, texture, and composition of the object, the pose of the figure, and the facial features of the Buddha.
Installation of Ben Shahn's Hunger from Art Interrupted exhibition, 2012

Freedom from Want

  • How did the artist convey the child’s need?
  • Think about the implied position of the viewer, the prominence of the boy’s hand, the treatment of his face and neck, and the use of color.

Ben Shahn, Hunger, 1946, gouache on composition board, Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art, Auburn University, Advancing American Art Collection.

Alabama institutions also participating in For Freedoms include Alabama Contemporary Arts Center (Mobile), Birmingham Public Library, Birmingham Museum of Art, Coleman Center for the Art (York), Institute for Human Rights (University of Alabama Birmingham), Mobile Museum of Art, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, Paul r. Jones Museum of Art at University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, and Wiregrass Museum of Art (Dothan). Visit FORFREEDOMS.ORG for full details.

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Upcoming Events

Sun 23

Which Way Home: Community Films and Conversations

September 23 @ 1:00 pm - 3:30 pm
Thu 27

Museum Shop Sale

September 27 @ 10:00 am - 4:30 pm
Thu 27

Pianist David Bottoms: A Little Lunch Music

September 27 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm