The root issue is the First Amendment – freedom of speech and expression – which is defined in an introduction by Katharine Coles, PhD, Utah Poet Laureate and Professor of English, University of Utah. The five civil liberties issues include:
Abuse of Power
This is the improper use of authority by someone who has authority because he or she holds a public office. Visual artist SUE COE, primarily known as a printmaker, has also made innumerable drawings depicting the malfeasance of public officials – the act or the result, whether real or symbolic. Featuring the dramatic high-contrast of black and white, sometimes with touches of red, we see lambs led to the slaughter, Uncle Sam in collusion with corporations, and thousands displaced by Hurricane Katrina forced into inhumane living conditions. FORREST S. CUCH, Executive Director, Division of Indian Affairs, State of Utah, provides insights on how governments can and do misuse the power invested in them by the people.
Above: detail from Sue Coe's "Thousands Try and Escape the Superdome," 2006, Hurricane Series
Church & State
The U.S. Constitution does not define the relationship between government and religious institutions, and there are proponents who favor either greater or absolute integration or separation of the two. In any case, the Constitution was designed to ensure the sovereignty of “the people.” ENRIQUE CHAGOYA, Mexican-born American artist and art professor at Stanford University, has integrated this issue of Church and State in many artworks, evident by titles such as The Ghost of Liberty and The Pastoral or Arcadian State, Illegal Alien's Guide to Greater America. He includes characters as wide-ranging as the American President, the Buddha, and Humpty-Dumpty. TERRY TEMPEST WILLIAMS, engaged in diverse projects as a writer, naturalist, and professor provides her personal reflection on this issue.
Above: detail from Enrique Chagoya's "Double Trouble or Anthropology of the Clone," 2005, ed. of 30
Since the Stonewall Riots in New York City during the summer of 1969, there has been a steady increase in grassroots efforts to halt discrimination against and ensure equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and transsexual people. If judgments based on skin color or religious affiliation are not acceptable, why are judgments based on different sexual orientations and gender identities? Photographer JOHN TROBAUGH has experienced censorship first-hand because his photographs place Ken dolls and GI Joe dolls in the context of same-sex attraction. Whether urban or rural, with well-known landmarks as backdrop or engaging in traditional social ceremonies, these playful images intend no threat to the heterosexual majority. JULIE JENSEN, Salt Lake Acting Company’s award-winning resident playwright, holds up a mirror to her past and our present as a conduit to Trobaugh’s sensibilities.
Above: John Torbaugh's "Golden Gate with Gloves off," 2004, Double Duty Series: Golden Gate Bridge
Generations of slaves brought by ship from Africa to the Americas helped build and define this great nation, living and working in inhumane conditions, receiving no recognition or compensation. Slavery may have ended as a government-sanctioned institution following Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation and the Civil War (1863-1865); however, this nation is still “a house divided” on the issue of race relations. KARA WALKER, African-American artist and art professor at Columbia University, explores the intricacies and ironies of this issue in a series of artworks entitled Harper's Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated). Reproducing pages from this 1866 volume, the artist ‘inserts’ silhouettes of African-Americans who were excluded from the original. DR. FORREST CRAWFORD, Assistant to the President for Diversity and professor of Teacher Education, Weber State University, provides his perspective in writing as an African-American citizen of and advocate for diversity throughout Utah.
Above: Detail from Kara Walker's "Crest of Pine Mountain, Where General Polk Fell, Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated)," 2005
Torture, Imprisonment & War
JENNY HOLZER exposes some of the horrifying results of the American military and coalition forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, in large-scale unique oil on linen reproductions of “redacted” (meaning edited) autopsy reports, made accessible because of the Freedom of Information Act. As these reports are rigidly formatted and coldly analytical, their power lies in the reading and absorption of the pain of the unnamed victims. An additional document, As a Parent, is the poignant letter from a father in support of his son, an American soldier, charged with crimes and facing court martial. Journalist, playwright, and Director of Creative Services at KUED MARY DICKSON provides keen observations about the brutal facts of reportage.
Above: Detail from Jenny Holzer's "Preliminary Autopsy Examination Report DOD 003290 – DOD 003292 Ochre," 2006
Liberties Under Fire: The ACLU of Utah at 50 is made possible through generous support from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation, John and Marcia Price Family Foundation, Utah Arts Council, Alternative Visions, and anonymous donors.
>>> ABUSE OF POWER
ARTIST :: SUE COE
Writer :: Forrest S. Cuch, Executive Director, Utah Division of Indian Affairs
>>> CHURCH & STATE
ARTIST :: ENRIQUE CHAGOYA
Writer :: Terry Tempest Williams, Author and Naturalist
>>> LGBT EQUALITY
ARTIST :: JOHN TROBAUGH
Writer :: Julie Jensen, Award-winning Playwright, Salt Lake Acting Company
>>> RACIAL JUSTICE
ARTIST :: KARA WALKER
Writer :: Dr. Forrest Crawford, Assistant to the President for Diversity, Weber State University
>>> TORTURE, WAR & IMPRISONMENT
ARTIST :: JENNY HOLZER
Writer :: Mary Dickson, Director of Creative Services, KUED