During this most contentious election cycle, Hank Willis Thomas and Eric Gottesman–who met in the 90s while organizing against the American invasion of Iraq–have established For Freedoms, an artist-founded political action committee (PAC) with a powerful goal in mind: “How can artistic tools for critical thought allow real conversations to take place?”

By Brian Boucher at Artnet News:

PACs have been a symptom of the runaway influence of big money on politicians; Gottesman and Thomas aim to turn the very entities used to drown out the voices of the people into a service for voters. The funds raised will go to commission artists (whether by invitation or open call, which is yet to be determined) to create political advertisements in the form of billboards, yard signs, and radio and TV spots advocating for candidates for office at state and national levels. If the first phase of the project is successful, the artists hope to extend it beyond the current election cycle.

Gottesman concedes that other activist-minded public figures have taken to politics, but maintains that those efforts are often more in the vein of performance art than For Freedoms, which has higher ambitions.

Stephen Colbert and Lawrence Lessig have tried to make the super PAC into something that would crumble into itself,” Gottesman said. “But we’re actually looking to engage deeply and improve political dialogue. How can artistic tools for critical thought allow real conversations to take place?”

This story was originally published on March 4th, 2016.