The First Amendment to the Constitution protects freedom of speech, religion, press, assembly, and the right to petition the government. The interpretation of these freedoms and how to exercise them responsibly has been a source of debate for years in government and society at large. Is the Constitution a living document that can evolve over time and adapt to America’s changing politics, economy, and social mores?
In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved.
–Franklin D. Roosevelt
Americans have always defined true freedom as the opportunity to direct their own lives through formal and informal institutions and practices. A free society relies on the notion that every man, woman, and child is free to do what they wish, so long as they do not infringe on the equal freedoms of any other individual. Artistic expression is proof of society's understanding and adoption of shared civic values. It is an act of freedom that is essential to the process of creating and sharing art, allowing artists to address important or controversial issues without fear of being silenced.
In this collection, you will find artworks that:
- speak out about the mistreatment of diverse communities and envision how to make the world a freer and safer place
- critique the individuals, symbols, and ideals that define American identity
- reshape an understanding of freedom by exploring America’s conflicts and controversies
Explore the ways American art addresses freedom through the questions and artworks below.
Do artists need freedom of expression? Why or why not?
Should there be limits to the freedom of artistic expression?
What does it mean to be free?
What is the importance of freedom in your life?