Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration examines the impact of mass incarceration on contemporary art and culture. Focusing on art made in US prisons and in collaboration with artists and activists across the nation, she explores various aesthetic practices of incarcerated artists who use penal space, penal matter, and penal time to produce art about carcerality. Her presentation considers how furtive planning and strategies of appropriating items of the state are employed. Working with meager supplies and in the harshest conditions, imprisoned artists find ways to resist the brutality and isolation that prisons engender. Their bold works reveal new possibilities in art and extend abolitionist visions.
Nicole R. Fleetwood is a writer, curator, and professor of American Studies and Art History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Professor Fleetwood’s books are Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (Harvard University Press, 2020), On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination (Rutgers University Press, 2015), and Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness (University of Chicago Press, 2011). She is co-editor of Aperture magazine’s “Prison Nation,” a special issue focusing on photography’s role in documenting mass incarceration, as well as co-curator of Aperture’s touring “Prison Nation” exhibition. She has co-curated exhibitions and programs on art and mass incarceration at MoMA PS1, the Andrew Freedman Home, Aperture Foundation, Cleveland Public Library, Mural Arts Philadelphia, and Zimmerli Art Museum. Her work has been supported by the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, NYPL’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, ACLS, Whiting Foundation, Denniston Hill Residency, Schomburg Center for Scholars-in-Residence, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the NEH.
Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter, also known by her hip-hop name “Isis Tha Saviour,” is an award winning Philadelphia based artist who creates socially conscious music through an autobiographical lens. Although it has been a decade since her release from a Pennsylvania prison, Mary’s time spent on the inside continues to shape the direction of her art and practice. Her entertaining but poignant works offer a critical perspective on the particular challenges women of color face when they become immersed in the criminal justice system. Ms. Baxter is also 2018 and 2019 Mural Arts Philadelphia Reimagining Reentry Fellow and a 2019 Leeway Foundation Transformation Awardee.
James Yaya Hough is a contemporary artist and activist. His art interrogates issues of mass incarceration, U.S.history, race, and American society/identity. He is currently the 1st City of Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office Artist-in-Residence.