Give a damn.

Give a damn. presents art from the Tang Teaching Museum collection by artists who, quite simply, give a damn about the world around them and the people in it. Not all artists included in the exhibition identify as activists, but through their art and its interpretations, they become advocates for freedom, equality, justice, and understanding.

The exhibition connects many media including painting, textile, photography, and drawing by 20th- and 21st-century artists diverse in race, sexual orientation, gender, age, and nationality. Many recent acquisitions are being shown at the museum for the first time, including work by Dawoud Bey, Jeffrey Gibson, Jane Irish, Zanele Muholi, Deborah Roberts, Wendy Red Star, archive material related to the Black Panther Party, and more. Recently conserved, Los Angeles–based artist Lari Pittman’s seminal Once a Noun, Now a Verb #1, 1997, is a large-scale, intensely intricate four-panel painting made in the height of the AIDS crisis that celebrates and examines what the artist has called the “bittersweet nature of life.”

Give a damn. is more than a sentence, more than an exhibition title: it is a call to action. In the first gallery space, a 1969 Corita Kent print asks, “Why not give a damn about your fellow man?” In the moments filled with the passion art stimulates, visitors are encouraged to take action by writing postcards to their political representatives about issues meaningful to them. The museum provides postcards and pens and pencils as well as guidance on finding representatives to contact about different issues; it will stamp and mail all postcards in support of an ideal democratic process in which all voices are heard and all voices are equal. 

For Freedoms 50 State Initiative

Through the exhibition Give a damn. and other programming, the Tang is a partner in the For Freedoms 50 State Initiative.

For Freedoms started in 2016 as a platform for civic engagement, discourse, and direct action for artists in the United States. 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—For Freedoms seeks to use art to deepen public discussions of civic issues and core values, and to clarify that citizenship in American society is deepened by participation, not by ideology. For Freedoms is part of a rich history of artists employing means of mass communication to provoke political discourse. For Freedoms believes art, and artists, play an important role in galvanizing our society towards a more representative and transparent government.

Since 2016, For Freedoms has produced special exhibitions, town hall meetings, billboards, and lawn sign installations to spur greater participation in civic life. This year, For Freedoms launched its 50 State Initiative, a new phase of programming to encourage broad participation and inspire conversation around November’s midterm elections.

Building off of the existing artistic infrastructure in the United States, For Freedoms has developed a network of over 300 artists and 200 institutional partners who will produce nationwide public art installations, exhibitions and local community dialogues in order to inject nuanced, artistic thinking into public discourse. Centered around the vital work of artists, For Freedoms hopes that these exhibitions and related projects will model how arts institutions can become civic forums for action and discussion of values, place, and patriotism.

Exhibition Name
Give a damn.
Exhibition Type
Group Exhibitions
Malloy Wing
Jun 30, 2018 - Sep 30, 2018
Give a damn. is curated by Mellon Collections Curator Rebecca McNamara.
Dawoud Bey, Syd Carpenter, H. Christoph, Alfredo de Batuc, Emory Douglas, Sam Durant, Jeffrey Gibson, Daniel Gonzalez, Nancy Grossman, Group Material, Ed Haun, Jane Irish, Corita Kent, Jack Lenahan, Leo Limón, Danny Lyon, Donald Moffett, Zanele Muholi, Catherine Opie, Michael Patterson-Carver, Lari Pittman, Wendy Red Star, Deborah Roberts, Stephen Shames, Laurie Simmons, Tim Rollins and K.O.S., Rirkrit Tiravanija, Garry Winogrand, Allen Zak
Student Staff
Magden Gipe
Registrarial Assistant
Sophie heath 2019
Sophie Heath
Curatorial and Collections Assistant
Past related events
Pattern as of Jul 13, 10:39:15 pm
daily on-campus page views: 546
daily off-campus page views: 255
current wind in Saratoga Springs: 3.96 mph, WNW
Website design: Linked by Air