E. German protest art showcases freedom

Monday, April 19, 2010

Date change: The Civil Rights Discussion Forum has been moved to April 28 at 3:00 p.m., and the Artist-to-Artist Forum has been moved to April 27 at 4:00 p.m.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Breakthrough Art Organization, founded in 2009 to champion
artists whose works are a means of overcoming political, social and personal
challenges, is bringing its inaugural exhibition and education program to the
John Seigenthaler Center at Vanderbilt University April 18 to May 8.

Nashville is the first stop for Breakthrough! Twenty Years After German Unification — Critical Perspectives of
Berlin Artists,
which will tour five cities in the United States throughout

Breakthrough Art Organization, based in Washington, D.C., will host a
discussion forum April 28 in partnership with the First Amendment Center, which
is headquartered at the Seigenthaler Center, 1207 18th Ave. S.

The discussion will bring together
10 visual artists from former East Germany and Nashville’s participants in
America’s civil rights movement. The artists, who endured repression,
imprisonment and exile for the sake of free expression before the 1989 fall of
the Berlin Wall and the resulting reunification of Germany in 1990, will
exchange ideas and compare experiences with those involved in the historic
Nashville lunch counter sit-ins.

The sit-ins mark their 50th anniversary this year and were seminal events of
the era that paved the way for integration. Moderators for the forum, which will
be held at the First Amendment Center, are John Seigenthaler, founder of the
center; Jeff Thinnes, founder of Breakthrough; and Gene Policinski, vice
president/executive director of the center.

“By launching Breakthrough at the First Amendment Center, among the foremost
institutions in the country supporting the First Amendment and the core freedoms
it ensures, we are sending a strong message that Breakthrough is as much about
the artists’ determination to freely express themselves as it is about their
compelling works of art,” Thinnes said. “Their courageous leadership links them
with people in other cultures and other times, including Nashville’s civil
rights heroes, who were willing to risk everything for freedom.” Breakthrough
also encourages teachers and students throughout the Nashville area to attend
the exhibition and engage directly with the art.

“The First Amendment has provided Americans with unparalleled freedom to
speak their minds, write as they will and express themselves in the arts without
fear of government repression,” said Policinski, who noted that the Breakthrough
exhibition would be shown in conjunction with the center’s permanent exhibition,
Protest: The Power of Petition and Assembly in American Life. “The elements of
the Breakthrough program will remind Americans in Nashville and elsewhere of how
precious and rare those freedoms are and how recently, in areas of the world
such as the former East Germany, they were restricted and repressed by

Most of the 10 East German visual artists whose works are featured in the
program will be in Nashville for the first week of the exhibition and on hand
for the following special events:

  • April 18: Opening reception by invitation only from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the
    First Amendment Center.
  • April 19: Junior High and High School Day,
    featuring opportunities for area students to interact with the artists.
  • April 27: Artist-to-Artist Forum, an exchange between the
    German artists and their Nashville counterparts from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. By
    invitation only.
  • April 28: Civil Rights Discussion Forum from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the center.
    Free and open to the public; seating is limited. For reservations, call:

  • Breakthrough is substantially underwritten by a grant from the Federal
    Republic of Germany, as well as contributions from participating foundations.
    The specific governmental department funding Breakthrough’s inaugural program is
    the Transatlantic Program of the Federal Republic of Germany with funds of the
    European Recovery Program of the Federal Ministry for Economy and Technology.
    Participating artists are: Gerald Hahn, photographer; Harald Hauswald,
    photographer; Peter Herrmann, painter; Thomas Klingenstein, painter and writer;
    Wolfgang Petrick, painter; Frank Rödel, painter; Hans Scheib, sculptor; Inge
    Schmidt, painter; Reinhard Stangl, painter; Robert Weber, painter. The
    exhibition’s curator is Helen Frederick, Professor, School of Art, George Mason

    The First Amendment Center’s Protest exhibit and the Breakthrough exhibit are
    free and open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For
    more information, visit breakthroughart.org or firstamendmentcenter.org.

    Media contact:

    Amy Asper
    Seigenthaler Public Relations