JAC’s 2020 Wrapped

As 2020 comes to an end, we are proud to share a snapshot of what the Justice Arts Coalition has accomplished this year. We couldn’t have done it without you – our readers, community members, and supporters!

We’re excited to announce that we have launched a redesign of our virtual galleries, now featuring over 200 artist portfolios and new themed galleries to better display the incredible work of our over 300 network artists.

Our team has grown! For full team bios, head here. The screenshot below is from a team meeting with 9 interns (Joslyn, Molly, Hailey, Nora, Melissa, My, Ava, Anna, and Isa), our volunteer coordinator Jayme, our network engagement and communications coordinator Cat, and our founding director Wendy. 5 interns are staying on next year, and 6 new interns will be joining! We’re looking forward to expanding our capacity by expanding our community and team.

Here are some intern art picks for 2020:

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Through this difficult and unprecedented year, we have been committed to innovating new ways to amplify and support system-impacted artists during the pandemic.

Our virtual holiday card making event was a huge success, with over 300 cards sent to incarcerated artists across the country.

Over 150 pairs of artists are currently corresponding through our pARTner project, which provides artists on the outside an opportunity to foster connection with artists in prison through the exchange of letters and creative works.

Since the onset of the pandemic, we’ve held weekly virtual gatherings to create opportunities for connection and growth even amidst a year of uncertainty. Wednesday network meetings have been generative, inspirational, and a place of resource sharing and vulnerability. Bimonthly distance learning calls have succeeded in bringing together teaching artists from around the country to share curriculum and community.

JAC held over 40 workshops in 2020, ranging from discussions on art as transformative justice, the relationship between music and visual art, and digital bookclubs as a form of restoration. Speakers have included currently incarcerated artists, professors, teaching artists, and advocates, among others. Thank you to all who attended, and we can’t wait to launch even more next year!

This winter we launched CorrespondARTS, a first of its kind distance-learning arts program for women at the Maryland Correctional Institution. Thanks to your support and the Maryland State Arts Council, two rounds of packets have been printed and sent out to participants. The program is a representation of JAC’s commitment to breaking down barriers keeping folks isolated. We are currently fundraising for CorrespondARTS to keep running.

Furthermore, we’ve partnered with a variety of other organizations in order to host special events and provide opportunities for our network of artists on the inside. One such example is the Open Mic Night on August 6th, which we held alongside Die Jim Crow Records. See the image for screenshots of performers from the night! Other partners include PEN America’s Prison and Justice Writing Program and MoMA PS1. We’re always striving to find ways of enabling people outside to experience and respond to the works of artists in prison. Our ArtLinks program, which moved online post-pandemic, seeks to do exactly that: bring people together to respond to incarcerated artists’ works. Here’s why the work matters:

“Knowing that there are still people out there who care enough to take the time to send and/or listen to what I feel I need to say is such a blessing. Being in this place, sometimes it feels that nobody cares or that I am simply forgotten. My heart is full of things that I believe need to be shared. And having that means more to me then you may ever know.” – Jordan, JAC network artist

Throughout this past year, we have also been more vocal than ever about our commitment to racial justice and prison abolition. We believe Black Lives Matter: read the full statement here. We know that being anti-racist is a constant process and requires constant work, and we will always prioritize hearing the voices and experiences of those directly affected by anti-Blackness, the carceral system, and state violence. The image to the left contains work by system-impacted artists about the realities of American oppression and police brutality. We encourage you to check out more of their work in our galleries and portfolios.

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Overall, we accomplished a lot this year! Despite the uncertainties and obstacles brought about by the pandemic, we at JAC are closing out the year with much to celebrate and be grateful for, including your support. Please consider investing in our ongoing growth by making a year-end contribution. You can help to ensure that we can continue providing our community with opportunities for creative expression, connection, and learning. In the new year, we promise to fight even harder to support teaching artists and elevate the voices of incarcerated folk. There are a lot of exciting new projects on the way, and we can’t wait to share them with you. To bring them to life, we urgently need your help. Please consider donating either monthly or single-time as 2020 comes to a close, both to celebrate what we’ve already accomplished, and to ring in 2021.


JAC writes to you from the traditional lands of the Nacotchtank and Piscataway peoples (Piscataway Indian Nation, the Piscataway-Conoy Confederacy, and the Cedarville Band of Piscataway), both past and present.

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