PatriART: Artists Defend Civil Liberties

Please join us at the Puffin Cultural Forum in Teaneck for the opening of a new art exhibition examining post-September 11 threats to our civil liberties. The opening reception is Saturday, March 26. A collaboration between the ACLU of New Jersey and the Puffin Cultural Forum, PatriART explores the USA PATRIOT Act and the growing climate of surveillance in America since the events of September 11. PatriART will be at the Puffin Cultural Forum through May 1.

The opening reception for PatriART: Artists Defend Civil Liberties is set for 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 26. This event is free and open to the public. The Puffin Cultural Forum is located at 20 East Oakdene Avenue in Teaneck. For directions or other information please consult or call 201-836-8923.

The opening reception will feature comments by ACLU of New Jersey Executive Director, Deborah Jacobs, discussing current threats to civil liberties, and ways that we as concerned Americans can fight for our rights.

After the 26, the exhibit can be seen during regular gallery hours between 1:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday or by appointment.

"In times of fear and political reaction, artists are the conscience of the nation" said Tim Blunk, Director of the Puffin Cultural Forum. The work in PatriART's was chosen from submissions from artists in New York and New Jersey - an area of the country most impacted by the events following the attacks of September 11, 2001. Included in the show is Hasan M. Elahi's new work Tracking Transience which was conceived after Elahi was investigated by the FBI after 9/11 as a possible terrorist suspect. His work emphasizes technology and the media, and their social implications. He is currently an Assistant Professor at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University. Other artists include: Meg Peterson, a New Jersey resident whose project began when she was arrested at the Republican National Convention; Thomas Van Stone whose piece Comfortable Patriotism illustrates apathy and blind patriotism in America; Michael Kabbash, a graphic designer who created a parody of the game Monopoly based on the Patriot Act; and Jeramy Turner whose work reveals grotesque and disturbing imagery of the American psyche and our obsession with power.

The exhibit was conceived in conjunction with a movement that has recently swept across America against the PATRIOT Act. Three hundred and sixty eight cities and counties and four states have passed resolutions to protect the civil liberties of their residents against the encroaching laws of the PATRIOT Act which include measures that allow searching without warrants or the suspect's knowledge and monitoring of library and internet use.

"Artists are often the first to feel and express the consequences of powerful political climates," Deborah Jacobs, Executive Director of the ACLU-NJ said, "Our partnership with the Puffin Foundation creates an opportunity to highlight artists who are moved by today's politics."

In New Jersey, 14 towns and two counties have passed resolutions that send a critical message to the federal government about measures that infringe upon civil liberties. The resolutions range in content, based on the concerns of each individual community. Some are symbolic, some have teeth. Some reject specific issues, such as local police acting as immigration enforcement, or the privacy rights of public library patrons, and others generally denounce the USA PATRIOT Act and other current threats to civil liberties. If you're interested in trying to get a resolution passed in your town or county, contact the ACLU of New Jersey at 973-642-2086.

The Puffin Cultural Forum is a project of the Puffin Foundation, Ltd. Please consult the Puffin Cultural Forum section of the foundation's website at for directions or other information about Puffin Cultural Forum events.

Artists with works in the show include:

Peter Barnet
Gregg Bierman
Alrick Brown
Sal Calderone
Hasan Elahi
Gene Fellner
Keith Gladysz
Ben Goldman
Daniel Iglesia
Michael Kabbash
Michael Lancellotti
Lori M. Merhige
Ruth Bauer Neustadter
Megan Peterson
Fred Sargolini
Kathy Shaskan
Elin O'Hara
Jeramy Turner
Pamela Vander Zwan
Thomas Van Stone
Michael Wiley

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