The exhibition at San José Museum of Art and a participatory public art project at UC Santa Cruz will be on view from October 30, 2020–April 25, 2021, followed by a presentation of the exhibition at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City
Online programs launch on October 20, 2020 with a conversation between noted prison abolitionists Angela Y. Davis and Gina Dent
The Institute of the Arts and Sciences at University of California, Santa Cruz (IAS), the San José Museum of Art (SJMA), and John Jay College of Criminal Justice are pleased to announce Barring Freedom, a new initiative on art, prisons, policing, and justice. With a contemporary art exhibition, participatory public art project, interactive website, and online event series, Barring Freedom engages audiences nation-wide around critical issues of mass incarceration, policing, and the ongoing struggles for racial and economic justice. Building on the legacy of research, education, and activism at UC Santa Cruz, including the contributions of Distinguished Professor Emerita Angela Y. Davis, the initiative highlights the important creative work underway by artists, activists, and scholars to imagine alternatives to current injustices. Programming is ongoing from October 2020 through July 2021.
At the center of Barring Freedom is a bi-coastal exhibition that will debut at the San José Museum of Art on October 30, 2020 and run through April 25, 2021. Solitary Garden, a participatory public art project made in collaboration between artist jackie sumell, UC Santa Cruz students, and Tim Young—who is currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison—will simultaneously be on view at UC Santa Cruz. Barring Freedom will travel to New York City, on view at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2021.
The artists in Barring Freedom were chosen for how their works engage the complex and historical social issues within the US criminal justice system. Artists include: American Artist; Sadie Barnette; Sanford Biggers; Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick; Sonya Clark; Sharon Daniel; Maria Gaspar; Ashley Hunt; Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman; Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts; Deana Lawson; Prison Renaissance; Sherrill Roland; Dread Scott; jackie sumell; Hank Willis Thomas; Patrice Renee Washington; and Levester Williams.
The exhibition will be supported by a series of online events on Visualizing Abolition, organized with Professor Gina Dent, feminist studies, UC Santa Cruz. With panel discussions, artist talks, and film screenings, the online events will emphasize the importance of the arts and creative practices in envisioning alternatives to ongoing injustices.
Visualizing Abolition will launch on October 20, 2020 with a conversation between noted prison abolitionists Angela Y. Davis and Gina Dent. Bryan Stevenson, founder and executive director of Equal Justice Initiative, will be featured on October 27, 2020 and online events will continue through May 2021.
“We have spent over four years talking with artists, activists, and scholars around the United States about prisons and policing and how the arts can bring light to these issues. We hope this program will add to the ongoing conversations and both highlight and inspire creative solutions to our humanitarian crisis,” said Rachel Nelson, interim director of UC Santa Cruz Institute of the Arts and Sciences. “With more than two million incarcerated people, a majority of them Black or Brown, virtually all of them from poor communities—our prisons, jails, and detention centers reveal a troubled vision at the heart of the United States. Our goal for Barring Freedom is to forge a new path to end these profound injustices and galvanize broad public concern to address the broken promise of freedom and justice for all in the United States.”
“While Barring Freedom was conceptualized before the current crises, the unequal and ongoing effects of COVID-19 and the heightened public awareness of police killings of Black people in this country have brought into sharp relief the consequences of structural racism,” said Lauren Schell Dickens, senior curator at San José Museum of Art. “Artists are crucial to imagining our way out of these crises. Working in ways both poetic and visceral, the artists in Barring Freedom show that our current systems of oppression are neither natural nor inevitable, and in doing so, open up space for envisioning a future beyond mass incarceration.”
As Angela Y. Davis cautions, reflecting on the current situation of mass incarceration and policing, “Dangerous limits have been placed on the very possibility of imagining alternatives.” It is with the urgency of the times that the exhibition underscores the importance of artists and creative practitioners in envisioning a world beyond the problems of policing and overflowing prisons that currently bar people from freedom in the United States.
Visualizing Abolition Schedule
All events are from 4–5:30pm PDT/PST unless otherwise noted.
Registration is required. Visit: ias.ucsc.edu/visualizingabolition
October 15, 2020
Angela Y. Davis and Gina Dent
October 27, 2020
November 13, 2020
Moor Mother and Rasheedah Phillips
November 17, 2020
Nicole Fleetwood, Herman Gray, Nicholas Mirzoeff
November 30, 2020, 4pm–12am PST
December 1, 2020, 12–1:30pm PST
Isaac Julien and Robin D.G. Kelley
January 19, 2021
Joanne Barker, Maria Gaspar, and Kelly Lytle Hernández
January 26, 2021
Reginald Dwayne Betts
February 2, 2021
American Artist, Simone Browne, Ruha Benjamin
February 9, 2021
Sanford Biggers and Leigh Raiford
February 23, 2021
Beth Richie, Erica Meiners, and Sonya Clark
April 20, 2021
Dread Scott and Erin Gray
May 4, 2021
Film screening and Q&A curated by Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman
May 11, 2021
Sora Han, adrienne maree brown, Savannah Shange
Barring Freedom is supported by the SJMA Exhibitions Fund, with contributions from Glenda and Gary Dorchak and Rita and Kent Norton.
Programs at the San José Museum of Art are made possible by generous support from the Museum's Board of Trustees, a Cultural Affairs Grant from the City of San José, the Lipman Family Foundation, Yvonne and Mike Nevens, Facebook Art Department, the Richard A. Karp Charitable Foundation, The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Adobe, Yellow Chair Foundation, the SJMA Director's Council and Council of 100, the San José Museum of Art Endowment Fund established by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation at the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and The William Randolph Hearst Foundation.
About UC Santa Cruz Institute of the Arts and Sciences
The Institute of the Arts and Sciences is an interdisciplinary exhibition and event forum in the Arts Division of the University of California, Santa Cruz. The IAS's mission is to harness the creative power of the arts and the sciences to explore big questions and critical issues of our time. It contributes to the cultural life of UC Santa Cruz and features the work of nationally renowned artists and groundbreaking scientists and scholars. The IAS offers a range of public programs, sponsors residencies, and curates and organizes an ambitious exhibition program.
About San José Museum of Art
SJMA is located at 110 South Market Street in downtown San José, California near the Plaza de César Chavez. The Museum is temporarily closed, following the Santa Clara County orders to Shelter in Place due to COVID-19. SJMA continues to offer programming online and has expanded digital content by creating a Museum From Home page, found here: sjmusart.org/museum-from-home. Updated weekly, the section features behind-the-scene explorations of exhibitions, art-making videos, educator lesson plans, a Curators’ Dashboard, and more. SJMA is planning to reopen October 30, 2020, however, given the fluctuating City and County guidelines due to Covid-19, please visit SanJoseMuseumofArt.org. Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors, and free to members, college students, youth and children ages 17 and under, and schoolteachers (with valid ID). For more information, call 408.271.6840 or visit SanJoseMuseumofArt.org.
About John Jay School of Criminal Justice
The Anya and Andrew Shiva Gallery is the primary fine art gallery at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, a senior college of the City University of New York in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. The program features a variety of media and concepts, but is heavily focused on social issues and the humanities. Opened in 2013, the gallery is 4,050 square feet and is located on the ground floor of John Jay's 620,000-square foot building that sits on 11th Avenue and 59th Street in New York City, a four block walk from Central Park. The building was designed by Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill.
Melanie Samay, director of marketing and communications, San José Museum of Art, firstname.lastname@example.org, 415.722.0555
Maureen Dixon Harrison, assistant director, arts communications, University of California, Santa Cruz, email@example.com, 831.459.3277