The Art as Resistance Gallery seeks to highlight the creative contributions of individuals fighting for the opportunity to design their own freedom and liberation from within the confines of incarceration as well as within the confines that constrict from outside of the prison walls.
In United States prisons where individuals who speak out against an unjust system are silenced through the use of solitary confinement, art can be a tool to subvert all forms of state sanctioned silencing. The Art as Resistance gallery pulls together the work of those most impacted by policing and prisons as well as community organizers to lift up the voices of those who have been silenced and our communities.
This year’s theme: Lines Travelled – Reentry as a Process, not a Product, will be an exploration of the journey to our unique idea of freedoms. Looking through the lens at (multidisciplinary) art forms of those of us with lived experience as well as those who have been impacted by mass incarceration, the gallery will highlight the concept of reentry and liberation as a Journey not a destination; allowing us to understand that it is the goal that drives us, but that path that impact us. We prioritize visual art (painting, drawings/sketches etc.) but accept poetry, ceramics, spoken word, and even music.
The Art as Resistance Gallery will be returning Fall 2019. Below are highlights from this past Art as Resistance Gallery held in June 2019
Robert Cook aka Dr. QA Kush
Will you crumble under the pressure of an unjust system or will you Man Up? Robert Cook aka Dr. QA Kush made a choice. Wrongfully condemned to death and buried under the PA prison system. Dr. Kush decieded to MAN UP! Through his art you will journey through periods of resistance and empowerment, through religion, family, education, perseverance, prison protest, self-denial, achievement freedom fighting for fellow prisoners, partial exoneration and released from Death Row. Yet after 29 yeas, Kush is still imprisoned by an in-justice system that refuses to release the innocent.
“Women’s Bill of Rights” by Peoples Paper Co-op
This banner was made by the incredible women in reentry who participated in the People’s Paper Co-op’s spring 2019, Arts and Advocacy Fellowship. The images were created in response to articles in the Women’s Bill of Rights: a collectively written document by 100’s of women in reentry in Philadelphia, identifying hurdles in reentry and the subsequent needs, dreams, and demands that women impacted by the criminal justice system need to thrive, not just survive.
Throughout the program, the women at the PPC worked with the Philadelphia Community Bail Fund (PCBF) to support their 3rd annual Mama’s Day Bail Out campaign. Working together, they created powerful posters, banners, t-shirt designs, poetry, and media campaigns to help the PCBF raise money for the Mama’s Day Bail Out, welcome the mothers home as they were released from jail, and host parades, events, and exhibits to raise awareness about why cash bail must end!
Healing Walls Inmates’ Journey
Cesar Viveros and Paris Stancell 2004
3049 Germantown Avenue
Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Restorative Justice Program uses hands on art instuction, mural making, and meaningful community service work to improve communities affected by crime, reduce recidivism and flip the scrip on the hopsless stories we often hear.
Artists Suave, Pedro Rodriguez, Kiakili and the brother of Robert Cook aka Dr. QA Kush.
Mark Loughney, Pyrrhic Defeat
Created at SCI Dallas, the Pyrrhic Defeat installation was conceived with the expressed interest of bringing awareness to mass incarceration.
All works were created in the artists prison cell and feature reappear characters such as a beetle that represents oppression and the stripped characters that represent prisoners.
“Pool Party” (2015) by Kiakili
Black men and women are constantly drowning within “the pool” of systemic oppression without a hand to pull them out. The only hands above the surface are of police brutality and the manipulative media that submerge them deeper into the waters. You cannot look at the #McKinneyincident and other incidents alike without seeing the unnecessary aggression. You see these children can’t enjoy themselves at a party without worry of being brutalized by those whom supposedly serve to protect them. The police are whom the innocent should fear the least.
Data strings in action
Participants were asked a series of questions and indicated their answers with string. This interactive project became resistance art all to its own as we found out that our community believes art can make serious change!
“Yellow Brick Road” by Todd A. Hollfelder
As a former inmate (2015-2018), I have now seen our corrections system from both sides of the proverbial “fence”. Since my release I’ve asked myself on many occasions, “Which is worse? Being locked up or experiencing these quasi freedoms designed to work against me?” The Corrections system paints a pretty picture, a prisoner does his time thus he is rehabilitated. Then they kick you out into a world with little opportunity, the title “felon”, hung around your neck, no smarter or wiser than when you were first incarcerated. Now what? No money and no place to go and no skills, his family and friends have abandoned him. He could lie about his criminal history on a job application or an apartment rental agreement and lose either way if anyone found out the truth. The managers find polite ways to say, “You’re a criminal! We don’t want you!” that skirt EEOC and Fair Housing regulations. Your neighbors are afraid of you.
The justice systems in the United States Fall apart as soon as an inmate reaches the end of that “yellow brick road”.
This piece is a part of a larger 7 painting series inspired by true events. Join artist Suave in protesting unjust systems through artwork.