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Arts + Justice

Amy Elkins, The Golden State, 2017. Photo by artist. Exhibition at Frank M. Doyle Arts Pavilion, Orange Coast College. Costa Mesa, CA

Stanford Arts Institute is collaborating on a series of workshops and student grants.

Now in its second year, the Arts + Justice program, led by the Stanford Arts Institute, is partnering with the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, the Institute for Diversity in the Arts, the Stanford Criminal Justice Center, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Theater and Performance Studies department to bring artists and scholars to the campus community. Through a Research Workshop Series and the Arts + Justice Student Grant, this program aims to reimagine the art of social justice.

Featured News & Events

Thursday, February 4 from 4:30-6pm PST via Zoom

The next installment of the Humanities Research Center’s Arts + Justice series, “From March to March: Bearing Witness to Injustice via Comic Art,” will be on Feb. 4th, 4:30-6:00 PM PST. This very exciting panel will feature comics scholar Dr. Hillary Chute, Stanford legal scholar Richard Ford, and National Book Award Winner and #1 New York Times Best Selling co-author (with John Lewis) for their multi-award winning graphic narrative series March, Andrew Aydin. Long held as an important medium for trauma, personal narrative, and change, these panelists will discuss the import and role of visual art in the ongoing fight for justice. Moderated by Jamie Fine

Sponsored by the Stanford Humanities Center. Cosponsored by the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, the Stanford Arts Institute, and Theater and Performance Studies.

Presented by PEN America

PEN America’s Writing for Justice Fellowship will commission six or more writers—emerging or established—to create written works of lasting merit that illuminate critical issues related to mass incarceration and catalyze public debate.

The PEN America Writing for Justice Fellowship aims to harness the power of writers and writing in bearing witness to the societal consequences of mass incarceration by capturing and sharing the stories of incarcerated individuals, their families, communities, and the wider impact of the criminal justice system. Our goal is to ignite a broad, sustained conversation about the dangers of over-incarceration and the imperative to mobilize behind rational and humane policies. As an organization of writers dedicated to promoting free expression and informed discourse, PEN America is honored to have been entrusted by the Art for Justice Fund to engage the literary community in addressing this pressing societal issue.

Applications Open: January 15, 2021
Deadline to apply:
 11:59pm EST on February 15, 2021

Originally recorded January 21, 2021

How does law transform the narratives we tell, and how can narratives reshape the law? This conversation brings together scholars and playwrights whose work intersects with the legal profession. From an artistic and critical perspective, we’ll investigate how performance can help us understand the law and imagine Native sovereignty and queer futurity beyond its limits. The panel includes Mary Kathryn Nagle, Ann Pellegrini and Eleanor Wong. Moderated by Kari Barclay.

Sponsored by the Stanford Humanities Center. Cosponsored by the Center for Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, the Stanford Arts Institute, and Theater and Performance Studies.

Huntsville Station (2020). Film by Jamie Meltzer and Chris Filippone.

When inmates are released from Huntsville Unit, the oldest state prison in Texas, the first destination for many is the nearby Greyhound bus station. Every weekday, the bus station becomes a site of reflection for men who’ve spent months, or decades, imprisoned. The short documentary above was filmed before the pandemic but captures the precarious period experienced by the estimated 600,000 people released annually from federal and state prisons across the country. With nothing much more than the clothes on their backs, a bus voucher and a $100 release check, these formerly incarcerated men grapple with the excitement and uncertainty that come with freedom.

Jamie Meltzer is a filmmaker and associate professor of the M.F.A. program in documentary film at Stanford. Chris Filippone is a filmmaker and educator based in Oakland.

Presented by The Confined Arts (TCA) and Release Aging People from Prison (RAPP)

The Confined Arts (TCA) and Release Aging People from Prison (RAPP) presents Open Call for Clemency, an online exhibition featuring works by artists who are currently incarcerated. The works reflect on personal responses to the current COVID-19 pandemic with a focus on the urgency and importance of clemency. Due to new COVID-19-related communication restrictions imposed in jails and prisons, many artists are not able to share their work or access materials to create new work at this time. This exhibition persists in spite of these limitations. The goal of this exhibition is to emphasize the humanity of those who are incarcerated, share their works as widely as possible, and ultimately reach the Governors’ offices, to advocate for clemency. 

A new project supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Million Book Project, spearheaded by Reginald Dwayne Betts, marks the first major grant since the announcement of the  Foundation’s new strategic direction – one that grounds all its grantmaking in the arts, culture, humanities, and higher learning in social justice. This vital initiative will distribute a curated 500-book collection to 1,000 medium- and maximum-security prisons in every state across the US over the next three and a half years.

The recorded discussion addressed what it means to extend access to literature across the American prison system, and to affirm the right of those who are incarcerated to engage in the exchange of ideas and stories that invigorate American society.

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NEWS: "PCAP associate helps to create monologues on incarceration and coronavirus"

"Michigan alumna Leia Squillace is one of the creators of this edition of The 24 Hour Plays: Viral Monologues, which aims to amplify the firsthand experience and perspective of those impacted by incarceration. The play, entitled COVID & Incarceration, joins a movement advocating for justice through health. The monologues can be viewed on IGVT on Instagram and on Facebook."

Read full article by Fernanda Pires here.

University of Michigan's Prison Creative Arts Project  "brings those impacted by the justice system and the University of Michigan community into artistic collaboration for mutual learning and growth."

Devin Garnick headshot


Devin Garnick
Program Manager, Stanford Arts Institute

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