FLAX Grant

Images for Human Rights: Student Voices

September 2-5, 2008, UNESCO, Paris
January 2-4, 2009, Pasadena Central Library

Postcards publication available for download here.

What do young artists think about human rights? How does the next generation address iseus of freedom? These and other questions are explored in a provocative 25-poster exhibition. The exhibition and accompanying panel discussion on Thursday, December 11, are free and open to the public.

Organized by Art Center College of Designed, this powerful show premiered at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, France to mark the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in Paris in 1948. The exhibition makes its US debut in the Great Hall at the Pasadena Central Library.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights arose out of the tragedies of the Second World War and is modeled on the US constitution. Co-written by Eleanor Roosevelet among others, it represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are entitled and has been adopted as a model for state charters around the world.

Taking such often-ignored declarations as “No one shall be held in slavery or servitude” (article 4), “No one shall be subjected to torture” (article 5) or “Everyone has the right to education” (article 26), Art Center College of Design students were challenged to dissect and represent these assertions through powerful visual images.

Sample works include “Sweatshop Sally,” a poster by student Sharon Levy, who adopts the commercial language of product packaging with a display of a child’s doll and sewing machine under the advertising slogan “Collect them all! Over 240 Million Child Laborers World Wide!!” Christopher Cosek deals with the phenomenon of child warriors on a poster that depicts a soldier, hand drawn as if by an infant, with the notation “An estimated 300,000 children serve as soldiers worldwide. Some are as young as 8 years old.” A panel of skin tones by Cindy Chen, laid out like paint chips and demonstrating a broad range of skin colors and textures, addresses article 2, “Rights and freedoms for everyone without distinction.”

The exhibition is supplemented by a panel discussion on Thursday, December 11, 7:00-8:30 PM, in the Donald Wright Auditorium at the Pasadena Central Library. Called Human Rights and Us: Getting the Message Out, panelists include David Kaye, Executive Director of the UCLA School of Law International Human Rights Program; Alison Dundes Renteln, Professor of Political Science and Anthropology at the University of Southern California; and Martha Rich and Esther Watson, faculty in the Illustration department at Art Center College of Design whose students produced the Images for Human Rights exhibition. The panel will be moderated by Erica Clark, Art Center’s Senior Vice President of International Initiatives and Designmatters co-founder.

Human Rights: Student Voices was developed by a multi-disciplinary team of Art Center students in the Illustration Department and is presented by Designmatters, Art Center’s social and humanitarian educational initiative.

For further information on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, please visit www.knowyourrights2008.org.

The event garnered press coverage in the Pasadena Star News, Pasadena Weekly, Pasadena Now, Community Arts Network, Art Daily, Topix, When.com, The Magazine Los Angeles, Inside Bay Area, Walkers Unknown Thoughts, Iconoclast, and Print Magazine.

Download press release here.