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Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the Justice System draws its title from a quote by political activist, academic, and author, Angela Davis: “Walls turned sideways are bridges.” The exhibition hopes to serve as a bridge or connecting conduit for conversation, contemplation, and change, recognizing the artist as a figure capable of changing society by bringing visibility to offenses within the justice system. This symposium, in partnership with the Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College of Civic Life (TUPIT), touches on issues of community impact, reentry, and the role of educational initiatives.

SCHEDULE

Thursday, March 5

3-5 PM: Mirror/Echo/Tilt Workshop led by Shaun Leonardo and peer facilitators
This workshop has limited capacity, see linked PDF for more information.

6 PM Keynote Talks: Laurie Jo Reynolds & Shaun Leonardo

Laurie Jo Reynolds is a policy advocate and artist who challenges the demonization, warehousing, and social exclusion of people in the criminal legal system, often long-term efforts at the margins of political viability.

Shaun Leonardo’s multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood—namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities—along with its notions of achievement and collective identity and the experience of failure.

Friday, March 6

10 AM: Curator Tour with Risa Puleo, Walls Turned Sideways exhibition

11 AM: Support Structures for Reentry: Artist / Activist Approaches panel discussion with Hilary Binda, Jeffrey Rafael and Reentry Think Tank (Mark Strandquist, Courtney Bowles & Faith Bartley)

12:30 PM: Lunch and Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College Info session

1:30 PM: Bringing Experiences of Incarceration to the Classroom: Experiential and Experimental Education with Mary Patten, Sherrill Roland, Kimberly Dong, and Risa Puleo

This symposium is produced in collaboration with Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College of Civic Life and it is presented with support from the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life at Tufts University and Tufts University School of Arts & Sciences and School of Engineering Diversity Fund.

More information about the keynotes and panels:

Keynotes

Laurie Jo Reynolds is a policy advocate and artist who challenges the demonization, warehousing, and social exclusion of people in the criminal legal system, often long-term efforts at the margins of political viability. She was the organizer of the campaign to close Tamms Correctional Center, the notorious Illinois state supermax prison designed for sensory deprivation. She also focuses on conviction registries, housing banishment laws, and public exclusion zones, which destabilize families and lead to unemployment, incarceration, and homelessness. Reynolds is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is coordinating an alliance to support the Chicago 400 (@Chicago400). The Chicago 400 are people with past convictions that require registration who are experiencing homelessness and therefore have to re-register weekly at Chicago Police Headquarters.

Shaun Leonardo’s multidisciplinary work negotiates societal expectations of manhood—namely definitions surrounding black and brown masculinities—along with its notions of achievement and collective identity and the experience of failure. His performance practice, anchored by his work in Assembly, a diversion program for court-involved youth, is participatory in nature and invested in a process of embodiment. A Brooklyn-based artist originally from Queens, Leonardo received his MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute. Creative Capital, Guggenheim Social Practice, Art for Justice, and A Blade of Grass have supported his practice, and he was recently profiled in the New York Times. His work has been featured at the Guggenheim Museum, the High Line, and Recess, with a current exhibition at the New Museum. Leonardo joined Pratt Institute as the School of Art Visiting Fellow in fall 2018.

Panel Discussions

Support Structures for Reentry: Artist / Activist Approaches: This conversation will engage support structures for those experiencing reentry, including cultural activities, education and advocacy. They believe that those directly impacted by the criminal justice system are the experts that society needs to hear from most. The Reentry Think Tank, based in Philadelphia, connects returning citizens with artists and advocates to transform the stereotypes, social services, and platforms that impact our lives and communities; Jeffrey Rafael, Justice fellow with TUPIT, which brings Tufts faculty and students together with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, corrections staff, educators, and scholars of criminal justice to facilitate creative and collaborative responses to the problems of mass incarceration; and Hilary Binda, Founding Director of the Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College, Director of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Senior Lecturer in Visual and Material Studies.

Tufts University Prison Initiative of Tisch College Info session
GET INVOLVED: TUPIT Information Session for anyone considering getting involved in TUPIT or Petey Greene as a faculty member, TA, or member of the new reentry navigators organization working on a variety of initiatives.

Bringing Experiences of Incarceration to the Classroom: Experiential and Experimental Education: This conversation will focus on how to bring experiences of incarceration into the classroom in experimental forms, featuring Mary Patten, exhibiting artist and member of Chicago Torture Justice Memorials, instrumental in passing the nation’s first Reparations Ordinance and included implementing a curriculum in Chicago’s middle and high schools; Sherrill Roland, exhibiting artist, who spent nearly one year in a D.C. prison for a crime he did not commit before being exonerated of all charges in 2015, returned to art school and developed The Jumpsuit Project, a performative project which encourages viewers to address their own prejudices towards those who have been incarcerated; Kimberly Dong, faculty at Tufts University School of Medicine, who’s current projects explore health disparities and causes and consequences of food insecurity in adults on probation; and Risa Puleo, curator of Walls Turned Sideways and independent curator and critic.