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New Freedom Center art exhibit tackles issues of humanity and inequity through contemporary lens


A new exhibit at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center explores the issues of humanity and inequity in contemporary artist Luba Lukova's prints and posters for Designing Justice.

"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 submission 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."

Her art also takes a global look at inequities, instead of being commentary that's just about issues in the United States. For instance, three of her pieces were inspired from a message she received from an Iranian person on Facebook who asked her to depict women's rights in the "Muslim world."

"We have here, a lot in the western world, images that show women fighting for equality, and they're openly expressing their feelings," she says. "But in regions of the world, unfortunately, it's not like that — women cannot speak out."

Designing Justice runs at the Skirball Gallery at the Freedom Center now through March 22, 2022. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children. Admission is free for Freedom Center members.

For more from the artist about her exhibit, listen to Cincinnati Edition at noon on Wednesday.

Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.