Mass Incarceration

A Prison Art Community On the Power of an Annual Exhibition in Michigan to Support More Than 700 Incarcerated Artists — Colossal


#Prison Creative Arts Project
#social justice

January 31, 2023

Grace Ebert

A painting of a man sitting in a reflective pool with broken steel bars in the foreground

“Self Portrait: Free Inside” by Jamal Biggs

As abolitionists and activists combat to finish mass incarceration and the horrifying situations of life in U.S. prisons, people and organizations have taken it upon themselves to assist these trapped within the unjust system. The Prison Creative Arts Project has been endeavor such work for many years, bringing its group on the College of Michigan along with these immediately affected by the carceral system by way of workshops, studying alternatives, and an annual exhibition.

Artwork was an out-of-body expertise as a result of if you’re in that sort of setting, there’s often a whole lot of violence or only a bunch of unhappy stuff. Artwork was a pathway to freedom on the skin.—Josh Herrera

In this conversation, Colossal managing editor Grace Ebert speaks with two previously incarcerated artists, Johnny Van Patten and Josh Herrera, and college director Nora Krinitsky about how artistic practices perform whereas incarcerated, why exhibiting and promoting work is crucial to the method, and what the humanity of artwork means in a system constructed on dehumanization.

Read the interview.


A painting of a fence in a green landscape

“Fence” by Kenneth Gourlay, a member of the Linkage Undertaking

A photo of a woman taking a photo of art on the wall of an exhibition

The 2022 exhibition ‘Shared Humanity.’ Picture by Nathan Kennedy

#Prison Creative Arts Project
#social justice


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