MOMENT: Artist Project
For Freedoms: The Town Halls
09.17, 10.24, 11.02 | 2016

This Fall, in the months leading up to the 2016 Presidential Election, The Mistake Room will partner with FOR FREEDOMS--the first artist-run Super PAC--to present a series of three Town Hall-style meetings in Los Angeles. Each one organized around one of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s four freedoms—Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear—these gatherings aim to inspire deeper civic engagement amongst citizens at a critical moment in our nation’s history.

Exploring the significance of these freedoms through a myriad of ideological perspectives, the meetings will function as both public forums for debate and safe spaces where divergent viewpoints can co-exist—even if only temporarily.  Moderated by FOR FREEDOMS co-founders, artists Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman, and other members of their team, the Town Halls will bring together community members with experts, civic and business leaders, and elected officials to discuss a wide-range of issues that are not only shaping today’s national conversation but that also impact the everyday lives of people.

During the Town Halls, participating panelists will respond to prompts and topics posed by moderators who will then open discussions with audience members through focused question and answer sessions. In bringing a spectrum of voices and positions together to contend with the realities facing our country, the Town Halls hope to highlight the complexity and intersectionality of charged debates that in our current political landscape too often get diminished to polarized and paralyzing binaries. 


TOWN HALL #1: Freedom of Worship

Saturday, September 17, 2016, 12:30-2:30pm 

California African-American Museum (CAAM) 

600 State Dr., Los Angeles, CA 90037 (Exposition Park)

Moderator: Eric Gottesman

Participants: Sheila Briggs (Associate Professor of Religion and Gender Studies, USC); James Gelvin (Professor of History, UCLA); Sana Tayyen (Lecturer, Religion, USC).

 While Church and State remain nominally “separate” in the United States, religion is intricately interwoven into the ideological foundations of our country’s political system. Notions of morality and questions of faith figure prominently in contemporary discussions around political decision-making, while sects of extremism and fanaticism corrupt practices of worship-- breeding a culture of xenophobia and violence. This Town Hall will explore religious exploitation and discrimination in the name of political power and capitalism as well as reflect on how tolerance and belief can coexist.


TOWN HALL #2: Freedom from Fear

Monday, October 24, 2016, 7-8:30pm

Neuehouse Hollywood

6121 Sunset Blvd Los Angeles, CA 90028

Moderator: Hank Willis Thomas

Participants: Cesar Garcia (Director & Chief Curator, The Mistake Room); Patricia Ortiz (Director, Immigrants Rights Program, Esperanza); Virginia Parks (Madeline McKinnie Endowed Professor in Urban Studies and Environmental Policy, Occidental College).

 Fear has emerged as one of the primary forces in public discourse, amplified further in the build-up to the November election. Distrust and apprehension quickly escalate into panic about those framed as other (immigrants, LGBT people, African Americans, Muslims, law enforcement, etc.), grounding the physical and legislative violence that we see today. The push for gun control, concerns about surveillance, and an epidemic of mass incarceration are countered by arguments around personal and national security. The impasses in our conversations have become chasms with dire consequences. The third and final Town Hall in Los Angeles will facilitate an open dialogue to combat the fear and prejudice that feed the cycles of panic and violence paralyzing the nation.


TOWN HALL #3: Freedom from Want

Wednesday, November 2, 2016, 7-8:30pm

Luckman Gallery at Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Cal State LA

5151 State University Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90032

Moderators:  Joeonna Bellorado-Samuels and Michelle Woo

Participants: Stephanie Pincetl (Director, California Center for Sustainable Communities, UCLA); Frank Tamborello (Executive Director, Hunger Action Los Angeles); Wes Yin (Associate Professor, Department of Public policy and Anderson School of Management, UCLA).

Norman Rockwell’s 1943 painting series, Four Freedoms, portrays the Freedom from Want as an image of the normative, nuclear family gathered around a table enjoying a Thanksgiving meal. More than 50 years later, this picture seems so distanced from the reality of a majority of people living in our country. Unmet needs mount as the middle-class disintegrates and the working class and poor are pushed further to the margins. Dwindling resources feed the growing wants of few in the name of greed and “societal advancement”. The second Town Hall meeting will investigate these growing inequalities that are shaping the economic landscape at home and abroad.

For Freedoms: The Town Halls is organized by The Mistake Room and curated by Cesar Garcia, TMR Director and Chief Curator, with Hanna Girma, Assistant Curator.

The Mistake Room's programs are made possible thanks to the generous support of its Board of Directors; Big Mistake Patron Group; International Council; and Contemporary Council.

Special thanks to our collaborating venues: The California African-American Museum (CAAM), Neuehouse Hollywood, and the Luckman Gallery, CSULA.