The United States is the world leader in incarceration, with 2.3 million people locked up in state and federal jails, juvenile correctional facilities, and immigration detention centers. Most imprisoned individuals are charged with misdemeanors or non-criminal violations, and a disproportionate fraction of them are Black.
These staggering numbers and an increased awareness of the horrors of confinement have galvanized artists to take a stand against mass incarceration. Among them is painter Julie Mehretu, who is donating all the proceeds from a sale of her work “Dissident Score” (2019-2021), which is expected to fetch between $3 and $4 million, to the Art for Justice Fund. The six-year initiative, a self-described “de-carceration fund,” was founded by Agnes Gund in 2017 to redress inequalities in the criminal justice system and has disbursed $84 million to more than 200 artists, activists, and organizations so far.
“Mass incarceration, solitary confinement, youth imprisonment, and putting kids in prison for life without parole are sins of our society, slavery in another form,” Mehretu said. “It is way past time for a collective reimagining of crime and punishment as we know it.”
“Dissident Score,” a nine-by-ten-foot canvas, is typical of Mehretu’s large-scale, multi-layered compositions based on abstracted photographs. The Ethiopian-American artist frequently addresses systems of captivity in her calligraphic paintings, drawing on source images of refugee camps and military fortifications among other paradigmatic visuals of oppression.
Mehretu’s painting will be unveiled at 8pm EST tonight, May 26, during a free and open virtual event hosted by Art for Justice, featuring a performance by Rhiannon Giddens and the participation of other artists and advocates. The work will be offered in a single-lot auction on Artsy with an opening bid of $2,600,000.
In an exhibition that consists of mostly small-scale black and white works on paper, viewer engagement almost magically awakens the sleepy room.
Maria Maea’s All in Time continues an intergenerational conversation and exemplifies the artist’s process, not simply the finished pieces.
The program, along with recently announced visiting critics, will provide long term funding, promote access, and safeguard experimentation for future students of color.
Koestler Arts works with incarcerated people and patients in secure mental health units, aiming to improve their lives through creativity.
Local artists and culture workers are wondering how the arena will impact the arts landscape, including museums and alternative spaces.
Huaca Pintada comprises a rare mixture of elements of two northern Peruvian civilizations.
Lensa AI’s digital avatars have captivated users, but some say the app is stealing from artists and reflects racial stereotypes.
Contemporary art, original sketches, and more explore how the Japanese character sprung from the pages of a manga and became a global cultural sensation.
New research contests the myth that it was Christianity’s opposition to public nudity that led to the decline in large-scale bathing in the late Roman Empire.
An exhibition at San Francisco’s Letterform Archive highlights typography’s role in iconic social movements from the 1800s through the present.
Eleven Contemporary Artists Explore the Meaning of Shelter at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art
Artists collaborate with nonprofit institutions and field experts to examine historical and contemporary determinants of housing and the feelings of safety and connection integral to places of living.
Rocks, ducks, and a self-organized survey of Gingham are some of the things to see right now in four Chicago art galleries.
Three weeks into their strike, part-time professors are escalating their protests, backed by public figures and disgruntled parents.