“The System Isn’t Broken. It’s Working Exactly As Intended”

We kicked off a series of artist discussions, called Creative Conversations, on April 19 that asks artists how they are dealing with important social issues. In the first part of our series we brought five Creative Capital artists together to discuss how they are using their practice to address criminal justice and mass incarceration. You can watch the full video above, or check out highlights from Twitter below on our Storify. Hope you enjoy!

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Announcing Creative Conversations: Criminal Justice


Clockwise from top: Maria Gaspar, Paul Rucker, Shawn Peters, Michelle Coffey, Gregory Sale, Nick Szuberla

Starting Tuesday, April 19, something big is coming to New York. Ok, it’s the New York primaries (please vote!), but it will also be the first in our series of Creative Conversations, a panel of artists addressing critical issues. In this first discussion, we will gather five Creative Capital-supported artists who are addressing criminal justice and mass incarceration in their work: Maria Gaspar, Shawn Peters, Paul Rucker, Gregory Sale and Nick Szuberla. And we’re so happy that Michelle Coffey, Executive Director of the Lambent Foundation, will moderate the conversation!

We will livestream the conversation (RSVP here) from 6-8 EST on Tuesday, April 19, and take questions from Twitter, so use the hashtag #CreativeConvos and our handle @creativecap to follow along! In the meantime, read on to learn more about the presenting artists.

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Yaelle Amir Curates Art Exhibition on Our Prison Systems

Untitled (from Lockdown)

Dread Scott – Untitled (from Lockdown), 2000-04

What would a prisoner’s dream home look like? Which news publications would an inmate subscribe to? To Shoot a Kite, an exhibition at the CUE Art Foundation on view through August 2, begins with questions like these and proceeds to open a world previously unknown to anyone who has never experienced the prison system. The show, organized by curator Yaelle Amir, examines several projects—including two by Creative Capital artists, Dread Scott (2001 Visual Arts) and Laurie Jo Reynolds (2013 Emerging Fields)—that expose the “abject state of the incarcerated.” As an increasingly significant portion of the American population lives behind bars, an exhibition like this takes on obvious importance. We spoke to Amir to get a better sense of her inspiration.

Alex Teplitzky: The essay you wrote for the show starts off with the character, Alex, from Sesame Street, whose father is incarcerated. Was it this character or something else that gave you the idea for an art show about prison inmates?  

Yaelle Amir: I have been studying the issue of mass incarceration in the U.S. for a long while and had the idea of developing an exhibition about it a couple of years ago, after I became increasingly aware of the existence of many creative initiatives to raise awareness and provide services to prisoners, such as Jackie Sumell and Herman Wallace’s collaboration, Temporary Services, and Laurie Jo Reynolds’ various efforts through Tamms Year Ten to connect with incarcerated men and women. My knowledge of Alex from Sesame Street came later, through initial research for the exhibition. Discovering this character really brought this issue home for me, making it evermore clear that mass incarceration affects a broad segment of the American population.

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Video: Paul Rucker at the 2013 Artist Retreat

Paul Rucker (2012 Film/Video) presented on his project Recapitulation at the 2013 Creative Capital Artist Retreat. You can watch more artist presentations from the Retreat on our Vimeo channel.

On Friday, September 27, Paul will present in the Creative Capital session, Art @ The Edge, at the IdeaFestival in Louisville.