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Times Square Arts, For Freedoms and ​Poster House ​just launched a multi-city campaign, which is on view on digital displays throughout all five boroughs of New York City and on JCDecaux screens in New York, Boston and Chicago. Artworks by major contemporary artists ​Alixa Garcia, Carrie Mae Weems, Christine Sun Kim, Christine Wong Yap, Duke Riley, Jenny Holzer, Kameelah Janan Rasheed, G.O.N.G. with Mel Chin, Nekisha Durrett, Paula Crown, Pedro Reyes, ​and Xaviera Simmons acknowledge the continued service of essential workers during the pandemic.

These artists join the graphic designers organized by ​Poster House and ​PRINT, whose work has been on view since the campaign’s launch in April, including ​Ola Baldych, Seymour Chwast, Pablo Delcan, Matt Dorfman, Milton Glaser, Jessica Hische, Joe Hollier, Mirko Ilić, Maira Kalman, Ross MacDonald, Bobby Martin and Jennifer Kinon, Richard McGuire, Debbie Millman, Emily Oberman, Gemma O’Brien, Edel Rodriguez, Paul Sahre, Paula Scher, Klaas Verplancke, Strick&Williams, and Zipeng Zhu.

PSA by Christine Sun Kim. Photo by Maria Baranova. 20 Times Square, NY
PSA by Carrie Mae Weems. Photo by Maria Baranova. 20 Times Square, NY.
PSA by Duke Riley. Photo by Maria Baranova. 20 Times Square, NY.
PSA by Duke Riley. Photo by Maria Baranova. 20 Times Square, NY.

“We’re excited to expand this citywide campaign with For Freedoms and a powerful group of artists with new messages acknowledging the hundreds of thousands who persist in sustaining us through each chapter of this pandemic -in particular the immigrant and undocumented workers who face greater risks and significantly less access to resources and support,” said Times Square Arts Director Jean Cooney.

In keeping the positive momentum, the public art campaign aims to encourage a sense of community and pride among New Yorkers, and give artists the opportunity to express their gratitude and optimism through the power of art. This group of contemporary artists joins the chorus of graphic designers in the ongoing global gesture aimed at honoring the essential workers ​— doctors and nurses, public transportation personnel, Times Square’s sanitation and safety workers, grocery store employees, delivery staff, restaurant workers, and more — who ​put themselves at risk on behalf of others.

“Art asks us to pause, to take a moment to consider what is in front of us. We hope that this project will further encourage us to pause, consider and appreciate those whose jobs are essential, who return to their nightly hospital shifts or daily customer service responsibilities, to guarantee that we are taken care of through this pandemic and beyond. We thank Times Square Arts for collaborating with us to ensure that we take this time to express our gratitude for these workers, for art, and for our community,” ​said ​For Freedoms​.

PSA by Pedro Reyes. Photo by Maria Baranova. 20 Times Square, NY.
Pedro Reyes, On the other hand (2017-2020). Courtesy the artist and Brooklyn Editions

In solidarity with New York’s nearly 2 million immigrant workers, this iteration of the PSA campaign includes the launch of a new limited edition benefit print ​by Pedro Reyes, produced by ​Brooklyn Editions​. Net proceeds from the sales of Reyes’ print will be donated to The ​New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC)​, the advocacy organization that represents over 200 immigrant and refugee rights groups throughout New York. In response to COVID-19 pandemic, NYIC has launched the #NYunitedFund to help ensure the health and safety of New York’s immigrants on the front lines. ​The print is available for purchase here.

A major advocate for immigration rights, Reyes is known for his socially and politically-engaged artworks that explore the power of individual and collective organization to incite change through communication, creativity, happiness, and humor.

«Social distancing is a privilege. I chose this drawing as an homage to those workers who work with their hands and on whom we depend to keep society going,” said ​artist Pedro Reyes.

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