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Freedom to Travel

An exhibit on FDR and Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms goes global



The exhibition contains Norman Rockwell works, like "Freedom of Speech", and other artists’ paintings, including the images below "Marines Call It That 2,000 Yard Stare" by Thomas Lea and a sign in Birmingham by Arthur Rothstein.

Illustration for PELELIU, Tom Lea Paints Island Invasion, Life, June 11, 1945; United States Army Center of Military History, Washington, D. C.; Story illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, February 20, 1943; Collection of Norman Rockwell Museum. ©SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN

The Four Freedoms concept was considered to be a flop. When FDR’s famous speech to Congress was made at the start of 1941, it was met with a mediocre reception. This was a critical time: Roosevelt was laying the groundwork for going to war with the Axis powers, needing to rally the public around ideals he wanted to secure for future generations.

It wasn’t that the American people disliked the concept; rather, the average Joe and Jane couldn’t connect FDR’s words to their own lives. There was a strong isolationist mindset after the First World War and the Depression. So, Roosevelt turned to the country’s greatest poets, playwrights, artists, and photographers to project those ideals.

It didn’t work.

Then, in 1943, America’s most renowned illustrator stepped forward to inspire his fellow Americans through what he did best, giving life to ideas through everyday scenes. With his brushstrokes, Norman Rockwell transformed FDR’s Four Freedoms from a perceived misguided flop into an indelible part of the national vernacular.

“Together, with one telling and the other showing, the two men had unwittingly given the abstract concept a profound meaning even as they had inspired Americans to embrace the ideals themselves. It was a collaboration that would elevate the president’s original phrase into a timeless moment. And that moment, looking forward, would influence the very shape of the postwar landscape,” writes James Kimble in Enduring Ideals, Rockwell, Roosevelt & The Four Freedoms to be released the end of May by Abbeville Press. 

Kimble, communications professor at Seton Hall University, is among more than a dozen notable writers in this book that will accompany the first comprehensive exhibition devoted to Rockwell’s Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want. He and Norman Rockwell Museum’s Stephanie Haboush Plunkett co-curate the international tour that opens at the New-York Historical Society on May 25. It then travels to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan; the George Washington University Museum and the Textile Museum in Washington, D.C.; Mémorial de Caen in Normandy, France (opening June 4, 2019, the 75th anniversary of D-Day); the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston; the Denver Art Museum; and the Norman Rockwell Museum (fall 2020).

“We wanted to target populations that are diverse and where the Four Freedoms message would resonate,” says Martin W. Mahoney, the Rockwell Museum’s director of curatorial operations. 

This “very ambitious exhibition,” as Mahoney calls it, germinated four years ago and contains more than 250 pieces. It is actually two shows: the historical context of Four Freedoms, with works by Rockwell and other artists of the time, along with photographs and artifacts; and “Reimagining the Four Freedoms,” a juried show consisting of 40 pieces by modern artists from across North America. (Major support comes from The Alix Foundation, George Lucas Family Foundation, and The Travelers Companies, Inc. Additional support is provided by an anonymous donor, Michael Bakwin, Helen Bing, Elephant Rock Foundation, Ford Foundation, Annie and Ned Lamont, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Ted Slavin.)

“The ideals in Roosevelt’s speech and Rockwell’s paintings are timeless concepts, relevant in any age,” says Plunkett. 

From private and public lenders, the pieces converged at the Rockwell Museum, where they were carefully examined, some requiring preservation work done at the Williamtown Art Conservation Center. Then all the artwork was repacked, crated, and ready for travel. In addition to the interactive portions of the exhibition—there is an immersive virtual reality in which you can step into any of the Four Freedoms paintings—an educational curriculum accompanies the exhibition that is available online and is published as a book with lesson plans to be distributed at each venue for teachers to take back to their classrooms. 

Children may learn that in 1942, Rockwell was frustrated that he wasn’t getting anywhere with FDR’s concept. Then he was struck in the middle of the night with the image at a town hall meeting he had just attended in Arlington, Vermont. Neighbor and farmer Jim Edgerton had risen to speak against a popular motion. It was a moment of “tolerant democracy,” as Kimble describes it in the new book. That was Rockwell’s breakthrough, his interpretation of Freedom of Speech. In seven months, Rockwell created four oil-on-canvas paintings, each measuring 45.75 by 35.5 inches. Editor Ben Hibbs of  The Saturday Evening Post had commissioned him to do the work. 

“Somebody should try to present the Four Freedoms in understandable, visual, emotional terms, and I knew if anybody could do it Norman Rockwell could,” Hibbs later reflected. The artist’s finished images were reprinted in four consecutive issues, each time reaching 3.3 million subscribers. An essayist provided commentary on each: Freedom of Speech in the February 20, 1943, issue, was accompanied by a parable from Booth Tarkington, two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize. On February 27, Freedom of Worship was released with an essay by philosopher Will Durant. Rockwell’s Freedom from Want followed in the March 6 issue, with commentary by Carlos Bulosan, the Filipino-American poet and labor activist. And Freedom from Fear ran in the March 13 issue, aside an essay by Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Stephen Vincent Benét. 

The U.S. Office of War Information turned Rockwell’s interpretations into four million large-scale war bonds posters that appeared in post offices, canteens, libraries, and other public spaces. A tour followed, with more than a million people coming to see Rockwell’s images and purchasing some $133 million in war bonds. (Each buyer received a set of smaller Four Freedoms prints.)

In Enduring Ideals, former U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson writes that Roosevelt understood an individual’s hopes could not be confined by national borders. One FDR adviser questioned whether the Four Freedoms should apply “everywhere in the world.” 

“I don’t know how interested Americans are going to be in the people of Java.” Roosevelt replied: “I’m afraid they’ll have to be some day … the world is getting so small that even the people in Java are getting to be our neighbors now.” 

Rockwell’s works remind us to keep striving to find the humanity and the heart that make us one, Eliasson writes. That is the Rockwell message that struck him as a young boy living in a small town in Sweden, and that still stirs Eliasson to this day. Rockwell summons the inner artist in us all. Keep drawing, Rockwell says. Draw the line that connects our shared humanity and aspirations.

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Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT  06382
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Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
Contact Name: Kathleen Burns
Website »

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Dr. Dan Villiers, co-founder of the Anxiety Institute in Greenwich, Conn., will give a free talk titled In the Trenches: Family Impact and Parenting Strategies for Anxiety and OCD. Dr....

Cost: 0

Where:
Greenwich Town Hall
101 Field Point Road
Greenwich, CT  06830
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Sponsor: NAMI Southwest CT
Telephone: 203-400-6264
Contact Name: Karen West
Website »

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Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

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Robert Kalm discusses his documentary Self Make: The American Dreams of Philip Musica, about the notorious swindler Doctor Frank Donald Coster, also known as Philip Musica, who was a respected...

Cost: Members: Free; Non-Members: $5

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
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The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Simon Russell Beale returns to National Theatre Live screens following broadcasts of Timon of Athens and King Lear, and his recent role in the National Theatre’s critically acclaimed...

Cost: See Website

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Road
Ridgefield, CT  06877
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Telephone: 203-438-5795
Website »

More information

Join New Morning Market’s new knitting club! We’re crafting wearable items for Safe Haven of Greater Waterbury and welcome all levels to join! Instructors will be on-hand for beginners. Yarn,...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
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Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

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Blending nature and spirituality, Connecticut artist Lori Barker explores the rhythms of life in a new collection of mixed media works on display at the Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery
5 Wykeham Rd.
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

More information

Idea exchange and brainstorming for entrepreneurs.  Sign up at www.martinhosueworkspace.com/event-listings.

Cost: no charge with one-day pass or membership

Where:
Martin House Workspace
69 Westchester Avenue
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
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Sponsor: Martin House Workspace
Telephone: 914-764-3128
Contact Name: Erin Trostle
Website »

More information

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Zachary Zaitzeff is a painter living in the Hudson Valley who has incorporated his extensive world travel, including his 2011 summit of Mount Everest, into his artwork. Zachary spent 2018 studying...

Cost: free

Where:
RT Facts Gallery
8 Old Barns Rd
Kent, CT  06757
View map »


Sponsor: RT Facts
Telephone: 860-927-1700
Contact Name: Natalie Randall
Website »

More information

The Maritime Garage Gallery’s latest exhibit features works inspired by art in public places. “Street Level ” brings to life the notion that public art can transforms...

Cost: Free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT  06382
View map »


Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
Contact Name: Kathleen Burns
Website »

More information

January Swing Dance w/ Chops, Sauerkraut, Krewtons Friday, January 18, 2018 Dewey Hall, 91 Main Street, Sheffield, MA 01257 Doors open at 7:30, Lesson with Jason Fenton at 8:00, Live music at...

Cost: $10-$20 sliding fee scale

Where:
Dewey Hall
91 Main Street
Sheffield, MA  01257
View map »


Sponsor: Oldtone Productions
Telephone: 413-429-1176
Contact Name: Beth Carlson
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Do you have a startup you’re trying to get off the ground? Are you thinking about starting your own business? Are you a solopreneur who’s trying to do it all? Everyone needs a...

Cost: no charge with one-day pass or membership

Where:
Martin House Workspace
69 Westchester Avenue
Pound Ridge, NY  10576
View map »


Sponsor: Martin House Workspace
Telephone: 914-764-3128
Contact Name: Erin Trostle

More information

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »

More information

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Blending nature and spirituality, Connecticut artist Lori Barker explores the rhythms of life in a new collection of mixed media works on display at the Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery from...

Cost: Free

Where:
Gunn Memorial Library Stairwell Gallery
5 Wykeham Rd.
Washington, CT  06793
View map »


Sponsor: Gunn Memorial Library
Telephone: 860-868-7586
Contact Name: Sharon Morrissey

More information

We invite you to join us at Dojo Fairfield on Saturday January 19, 2019 when we host the founder/CEO of C.O.B.R.A. Self-Defense, Chris Sutton, for a one-day self-defense/ASRP (Active Shooter...

Cost: $129.00

Where:
DOJO FAIRFIELD
2317 Black Rock Tpke.
FAIRFIELD, CT  06825
View map »


Sponsor: DOJO FAIRFIELD
Telephone: 203.319.9989
Contact Name: Karina Gramesty
Website »

More information

Caring for a loved one with a mental health condition can be overwhelming and stressful. Family-to-Family is a free, 12-session education program for family, friends and significant others...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Greenwich Hospital
5 Perryridge Road
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: NAMI Southwest CT
Telephone: (914) 527-2994
Contact Name: Janet
Website »

More information

Celebrate Helena Hernmarck’s materials and processes at our monthly free admission day. Work with teaching artists and Museum staff on warm wintery projects while enjoying hot cocoa and seasonal...

Cost: Free

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 23, with Santa visiting on December 8! Decorated for the...

Cost: Members free, Non-member adults $10/ kids $5.

Where:
Wilton Historical Society
224 Danbury Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »

More information

The Bruce Museum is organizing an exhibition of small artworks created entirely by the public for the public. We invite art lovers of all ages, interests, and abilities to submit a depiction of...

Cost: Free

Where:
Bruce Museum
One Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-869-0376
Website »

More information

In this key moment in our national history and the struggle for women’s equality and freedom of expression, the Fairfield Museum’s exhibition “Flappers: Fashion and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Fairfield Museum and History Center
370 Beach Road
Fairfield, CT  06824
View map »


Website »

More information

Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the Hartford Boat Show (HBS50) features the newest boats on the market including center consoles, fishing boats, luxury cruisers, deck and pontoon boats, sport and...

Cost: $12 in advance online, $14 at the door, $10 Senior/Military one day pass

Where:
Expo Center at Mohegan Sun
1 Mohegan Sun Blvd
Uncasville, CT  06382
View map »


Sponsor: Connecticut Marine Trades Association
Telephone: 860-767-2645
Contact Name: Kathleen Burns
Website »

More information

Here’s a holiday idea for the whole family – a private tour of the Peter Parley Schoolhouse! The Ridgefield Historical Society maintains and operates the 1756 Schoolhouse, also called the...

Cost: Suggested donation $10 for adults, kids are free

Where:
Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Intersection of West Lane and CT Rte 35
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Historical Society
Telephone: 203-438-5821
Contact Name: Peter Parley Schoolhouse
Website »

More information

Zachary Zaitzeff is a painter living in the Hudson Valley who has incorporated his extensive world travel, including his 2011 summit of Mount Everest, into his artwork. Zachary spent 2018 studying...

Cost: free

Where:
RT Facts Gallery
8 Old Barns Rd
Kent, CT  06757
View map »


Sponsor: RT Facts
Telephone: 860-927-1700
Contact Name: Natalie Randall
Website »

More information

Heather Gaudio Fine Artis pleased to present “Jae Ko: 漂流 Drift,” the artist’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.   In addition to showcasing...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heather Gaudio Fine Art
66 Elm Street
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Sponsor: Heather Gaudio Fine Art
Telephone: 203-801-9590
Contact Name: Rachael Palacios
Website »

More information

Type 2 diabetes is becoming an epidemic. Dr. Shawn Carney, a naturopathic physician at Northeast Natural Medicine, LLC, will address the development of problems with blood sugar control. He will...

Cost: Free - registration requested

Where:
New Morning Market
129 Main St North
Woodbury, CT  06798
View map »


Sponsor: New Morning Market
Telephone: 203-263-4868
Website »

More information

Join artists and crafters Amelia McIsaac of Flowering Heart and Susannah White of Carapace Farm Puppetry to explore the process of felting. Work with plant-dyed wool from their small family flock...

Cost: $15; $13.50 member

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Learn some basics of a simple honest cuisine created by thousands of years of heritage, shared culture and a bit of Viking pillaging.Menu:Demo: Gravlax from Scratch, served with Mustard Dill Sauce...

Cost: 100.00

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Telephone: 860-355-0300
Website »

More information

Comedian, actor, and impressionist Frank Caliendo has been making people laugh his entire life.  He is well known for his impressions of famous personalities: Donald Trump, Morgan Freeman, Al...

Cost: See Website

Where:
The Ridgefield Playhouse
80 East Ridge Road
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Telephone: 203-438-5795
Website »

More information

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