“Manifest: Justice” Examines Social Inequality Through Art

Hank Willis Thomas, Favianna Rodriguez, and Shepard Fairey are among the many artists whose works are on display at the exhibition

MANIFEST:JUSTICE, which opens Saturday and runs through May 10 at Baldwin Theater, presents an excellent opportunity for anyone who wants to engage with the events unfolding in Baltimore through artistic expression and public discussion. The art show is a “creative community exhibition that will elevate and illuminate the ongoing conversation of race, implicit bias, and lack of access to comprehensive healthcare in our country, specifically in low income areas,” says Yosi Sergant, founder of TaskForce, the organization producing MANIFEST: JUSTICE.

Featuring works by over 200 visual artists including Hank Willis Thomas, Sanford Biggers, Favianna Rodriguez, Robbie Conal, Andrea Bowers, and Shepard Fairey, this exhibit is a massive creative response to the overwhelming social issues facing us.

MANIFEST:JUSTICE started in August of 2014. While Ferguson was churning with struggle, Marvin Bing, National Director of Art for Amnesty, called Sergant and said, “we have to rally the creatives to join this conversation.” Sergant put the word out to the artists and their responses were immediate and overwhelming. 

With the artist community on board, TaskForce began assembling the enormous team of people it would take to launch an art event of this scale. Sergant points out that in addition to the exhaustive efforts of leading organizers like associate curator and gallery manager Jacquelyn Mason-Drayton, Marvin Bing, and many others, exhibits like this require a tremendous amount of human power and resources from the local people. “We have plumbers plumbing for justice,” Sergant explains. “Electricians who could be working in million dollar homes are here working at cost because they want to be here.”  

“We are currently in a moment that is literally on fire, but we have built on a history of facing these moments before. For every moment that we have faced, heroes have emerged, solutions have emerged, and we’ve spoken truth to power. We’ve partnered with organizations and artists and activists and lawmakers, and we have found ways beyond these moments. And that work continues.”