Art Exhibit Explores Problems, Solutions To Troubled Criminal Justice System

Art Exhibit Explores Problems, Solutions To Troubled Criminal Justice System
by Arionne Nettles

A new Chicago art exhibition explores problems in the city’s criminal justice system and brings artists and community groups together to come up with solutions.

“Envisioning Justice: An Exhibition” is part of a larger initiative by the nonprofit Illinois Humanities to engage communities across Chicago in a discussion about mass incarceration and how to think about justice in a new way.

Community hub Free Write Arts & Literacy, which provides programming inside the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center, contributed written and audio works produced by the program’s youth and young adults. Their art is surrounded by a timeline of changes in legislation, policy and reforms that have occurred during the organization’s 19-year history.

“We wanted to have the exhibition center the writing and art of our students, as published here in the middle of the gallery, but we also wanted to share the context in which this work was created,” Free Write founder Ryan Keesling said. “This story tells details about how policy has been formed, about how the community is organized against and around issues of youth incarceration, and other sort of violences against the community.”

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The Envisioning Justice public reception will be held Saturday, Aug. 17 at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Sullivan Galleries at 33 S. State St. The exhibition is free and open to the public through Oct. 6.

Arionne Nettles is a digital producer at WBEZ covering arts and culture. Follow her on Twitter at @arionnenettles.