Anthony Freda and the Use of Art to Promote Human Rights and Peace

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of The AHA Foundation.

Anthony Freda is an artist, activist and professor of Visual Communication at F.I.T. in New York. Anthony is an accomplished artist and has worked for years designing art for advertisements and the media. Anthony reached out to the Foundation after creating a piece of art titled “Clash,” with the intention of donating a portion of the proceeds in support of Ayaan and the Foundation. We spoke to him about his motivations for his work and the inspiration behind this piece. 

My career began in advertising and moved into mainstream editorial illustration and fine art. Looking back, I now feel that my skills were being used to manufacture consent to agendas that I am morally and ethically opposed to. As a young man I worked on the infamous Joe Camel ad campaigns which were pulled for using cartoons to target children, and I worked on Op-Ed pieces for the New York Times when they were feverishly cheerleading the Invasion of Iraq. I have since repented and now dedicate my work to “sell” the causes of peace and freedom by volunteering my services to like-minded alternative, independent media outlets, with one foot still in the mainstream media.

But I bite the hand that feeds me every chance I get by exposing their lies and propaganda via numerous platforms. I am a political atheist, so that puts me in league with some strange bedfellows. I write and illustrate for both libertarian and classically liberal organizations. The common ground where I live is anywhere where the fight against tyranny and oppression is being engaged. Some of these news sites are very controversial, but they are on the front lines of the battle for the rights of the individual to speak their truth without regard for political correctness. This is where the expression of free speech and the battle to keep that freedom is most vital.


“Clash” by Anthony Freda

With my piece titled “Clash,” I wanted to portray the isolation and longing which I can only imagine the Burqa shrouds the wearer with. I thought creating an homage to Edward Hopper’s painting “Morning Sun” would work to achieve this end. Hopper’s work suggests the bleakness and solitude of modern life and the mediation between inner reality and the outside world. The image has accompanied several articles and films detailing the abuses of women in the Muslim world. The systemic and sometimes violent oppression of females is sanctioned in many Islamic countries and I want to bring more attention to these disturbing truths to inspire action against them.


In regards to the name of my piece, “Clash,”  there are several clashes I am referring to. The ongoing “Clash” between the Islamic world and the West has been waging since the 7th century. “Clash” also refers to the clash between contemporary and 7th-century ideals. How can an ancient and intolerant religiopolitical system coexist with a free and open 21st-century culture? The clash between man and technology is depicted in the painting by the tension between the Predator Drone humming in the sky outside the window as seen by the burqa-clad woman. I also think there is a dangerous lack of true understanding of the dogma, geopolitical goals, and history of the sword of political Islam.

My support for Ayaan began when I read her book Heretic and found her to be a true hero in the cause of human rights. Her bravery through everything from death threats to political attacks is inspiring. How can anyone oppose the efforts being made by Ayaan and the AHA Foundation to end abuse, oppression, and suffering? This is intolerance in the guise of tolerance. When champions of human rights are disgracefully and unfairly under assault, I am compelled to rush to their aid in any way I can. I believe that the efforts being made by Ayaan Hirsi Ali are among the most critical of our time and I am proud and humbled to join the fight for human liberty.

To purchase the artwork “Clash” in support of The AHA Foundation or view more of Anthony’s artwork visit his website here.