Luba Lukova: Designing Justice at National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
October 8, 2021 – March 22, 2022
National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
50 East Freedom Way
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202
Wednesday – Sunday
10:00 am – 5:00 pm
Monday – Tuesday
Ask the Curator: Discussion with Designing Justice Artist & Curator Luba Lukova
5:30 pm – 6:30 pm EST
A new exhibition at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, a Smithsonian Affiliate in Cincinnati, Ohio, explores the issues of humanity and inequity in contemporary artist Luba Lukova's works for Designing Justice.
Lukova’s artwork helps viewers develop empathy for social and cultural issues through the use of metaphors and bold, succinct symbols that communicate universal truths about desire, fear, creation, hope and man’s endless capacity for love and hate. Among the themes addressed are peace, censorship, immigration, ecology, hunger and corruption. By the time guests leave the exhibition they will have been reminded that social issues across the globe demand to be addressed – and changed – through the commitment of well-intentioned individuals. In all, Lukova’s images help provide inspiration for each of us to be a force for good in the world.
“The power of art is the power to transform. Luba Lukova’s artwork encourages viewers to look inward as they stand before her images, revealing as much about individuals as it does society,” said Woodrow Keown, Jr., president & COO of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “Designing Justice is a powerful addition to our museum experience and adds another critical step in guests’ personal journey as they reflect on the world around them and who they are in it.”
Luba Lukova, Delta Blues, 2012, Silk-screen
Luba Lukova, I Have a Dream, 2012, Silk-screen
Lukova talked about her exhibition in a recent interview with NPR Cincinnati Edition. "In our life today, we use justice in so many contexts, from racial to environmental to social," said the New York-based artist. "But in the end, it's just this idea of right and wrong — that fundamental idea of doing the right thing, of not hurting the people around you, just being honest, being truthful, being rightful in our actions. So, I think my exhibition is about that."
Lukova says art is a unifier and equalizer that can speak to people of any background, and her traveling exhibit is meant to do that. Her pieces include bold colors and often simple depictions with big messages, such as a pie with many forks in a single piece and one fork in the larger piece. Another one called Censorship is of a man playing the flute with nails hammered into the tone holes.
"It kind of leaves it to the viewer to complete the picture in their head and to find the answer for themselves… But I never tell the viewer, 'This is how you should think.' You should find the answer for yourself when you look at the picture," she said. "And I think this metaphoric way that I use makes it more interesting to people because nobody wants to be lectured. And I let them discover for themselves."
Listen to Luba Lukova's full interview on NPR Cincinnati Edition.
Designing Justice runs at the Skirball Gallery at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center now through March 22, 2022. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Admission is free for Freedom Center members.
Designing Justice, New Exhibition Opens at Freedom Center
About the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at freedomcenter.org, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State and International Justice Mission.
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