STOCKBRIDGE, Mass. — Norman Rockwell Museum Director/CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt has been invited by the U.S. Ambassador to Ethiopia, Donald Booth, to travel to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, as a U.S. speaker and specialist of the Department of State’s Bureau of International Information Programs. Norton Moffatt will present talks on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “The Four Freedoms” speech and the Peace Corps, celebrating their 70th and 50th anniversaries respectively this year, and subjects famously illustrated by the artist Norman Rockwell. While there, she will also work with Ethiopian artists, museum personnel and students, sharing American art practices and jurying an exhibition of contemporary renditions of “The Four Freedoms.”
Moffatt was scheduled to depart on Jan. 7, 2011.
“I am exceptionally honored to represent Norman Rockwell’s art and our museum on this cultural exchange, where I will have opportunity to meet the Ethiopian art community, fine arts students, museum personnel, and various community leaders through the US Embassy,” said Norton Moffatt in a statement released last week. “In addition, having the opportunity to follow in Rockwell’s footsteps will give me a better understanding of his world outlook and elder statesmanship during the latter period of his life.”
In 1964, Rockwell traveled to Ethiopia on assignment for “Look” magazine, in order to paint United States Peace Corps volunteers on-site conducting their humanitarian outreach. President John F. Kennedy founded the Peace Corps in 1961, a movement designed to inspire mutual understanding between Americans and other cultures around the world.
Twenty years earlier, Rockwell was moved to create visual depictions of the inspiring words of a previous president. In his Jan. 6, 1941 address to Congress, President Roosevelt articulated his vision for a postwar world founded on four basic human freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. The galvanizing speech, whose concepts would be incorporated into the preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, inspired Rockwell, who painted the iconic “Four Freedoms” known around the world today.