Envisioning Justice leverages the arts and humanities to envision alternatives to the enduring injustice of mass incarceration. This Illinois Humanities initiative works with communities and people impacted by mass incarceration to spark conversation and illuminate community-based strategies that address our racist and unjust criminal legal system.
This project is a collection of objects built, considering the poetic outlines of hope, stress, and a selection of sentient wishes for our city on incarceration. It equally, reaches back in time. A time in the early-mid 1990s when I went inside the Juvenile Detention Center with friend and artist Michael Piazza. I was taken exactly 25 years ago, by the many human-made holes in the ground and the mandala that has appeared to me over my life, beautifully spotted and spiraled, steel-clad coverings to possibilities of passage that remain, invisible. The collection includes a publication of drawings and words on a hand-drawn map of the city identifying sites of incarceration, sites of passages, and sites of healing. The texts provide views from many youths and those released from incarceration. There are large rubbed drawings from youth at SkyArt under the Skyway made as gifts to the wishes of youth who remain detained. There is a wall of small built, modified, and found objects as talismans that equally document this year noting the ideas, stories, and relationships built. The objects in plastic possess the strata of the mandala, the outline of the true self, stress, and hope. Hope in the future and to love, relieving the stress of uncertainties and models, and identifying a true self in the shared activities of childhood where the imagination was protected and unleashed and will again be revisited. There is a writing table of golden warm honey onyx as the bees became symbols of resilience, like the butterflies who travel great distances aware of the challenges but not detoured by the risk. Finally, simple seats designed for humans and will be prepared and set outside at Alphonsus Academy Center for the Arts for the children to continue connecting nature as metaphor and fulcrum to undertake actions of change and a changing world as well-wishers and those slits cut into the seats act as windows for remaining Monarchs to have sanctuary in Chicago from the birds who could be anybody.
Stockyard Institute with the great Jeff Kowalkowski and radio man Davion Mathews, used a small micro-watt radio transmitter from the site of the future home of the National Public Housing Museum to collect and broadcast stories of the community, for the community and with the community. Malose Malalela activated the building with scaffolding which encased the structure and pointed to its outlines. Tap dancers and tapped and the aesthetics of an outdoor opera set the stage for live performances and including an opera singer.
The Clear Lake Project is a working meditation on a place of my youth and currently, as a material source for rebuilding two small cabins in Chicago that sat on this site for most of the 20th Century.
Regret letters from 5 politicians I invited to my Eagle Scout ceremony in 1976. President Gerald Ford, Sen. Charles Percy, Mayor Michael Bilandic, Sen. Adlai Stevenson, State Sen. Robert Egan. The framed letters were displayed with a flower box filled growing spearmint. Exhibited at the
The decommissioned school bus was transformed into a convertible
Five podiums at the Chicago Cultural Center as part of a Year of Public Art Chicago.
These are a series of heavy, hand-built wooden podiums from materials of Chicago neighborhoods to provide a public platform for children and others, invited cultural spaces, youth performers and activists , and towards spaces in and out of schools to stand behind.