Somos LA Arte (image courtesy ACTA Arts in Corrections)

Art programs for imprisoned people make a difference, and all of us should be paying attention to the work they produce. This is the resounding message of “Share the Mic: Incarcerated Arts,” hosted by Los Angeles’s Fowler Museum. This Saturday, various leaders of such art programs will talk about their work, and how museums and cultural institutions can “destigmatize and center incarcerated voices.”

“As civic spaces, museums can be advocates for those in prison and after reentry through programming, exhibitions, and outreach,” said Amy Landau, the event’s moderator and director of education and interpretation at the Fowler, in an email to Hyperallergic.

Yet, as Fabian Debora, executive director of Somos LA Arte – Homeboy Art Academy, pointed out, “The museums have not done a great job of opening the door and providing a platform for incarcerated art. It’s stigmatized as gang art.” Debora argues that in order to remove this stigma, we need to see these artists as more complex human beings.

This is what organizations like Words Uncaged strive to do. Co-founder Bidhan Roy stresses that they give “incarcerated men and women a space to reimagine and express who they are … versus a narrow window in time when they committed a crime, a time that has come to define their public persona.”

Landau, Roy, and Debora will also be joined by Jahanna Blunt, program director of Rhythm Arts Alliance, and Tobias Tubbs, a spoken word artist and former inmate who co-founded Words Uncaged. Tubbs will perform “When I’m President,” a piece timed for this year’s elections.

When: Saturday, October 17, 12–1:15pm (PDT)
Where: Zoom

More info at the Fowler Museum.

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Elisa Wouk Almino

Elisa Wouk Almino is a senior editor at Hyperallergic. She is based in Los Angeles. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.