JAC is proud to feature the work of Kenneth Reams, an artist and activist who has been incarcerated on death row for twenty-seven years. In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and in order to raise money for his ongoing fight for freedom, Kenneth is auctioning off this 8.5″ x 11″ framed portrait of MLK Jr, done in graphite on acid-free paper (above). The auction will end on Friday, January 22nd at 5pm PST so be sure to check it out soon! More information and instructions for how to enter can be found here.
We have also had the honor of hosting Kenneth as a facilitator for our online workshop series Create + Connect: In The Box with Kenneth Reams, and we welcome you to join us on Thursday, January 28th at 4pm PST for week 5 of the series. Come, enter the Box, and join the conversation around the intersection of law, activism, and the transformative powers of the arts. From the confines of solitary confinement, Kenneth hosts interviews, entertains, and reshapes the narrative with some of the nation’s leading criminal justice activists, lawyers, and artists. Register here.
In 1993, Kenneth Reams was an unarmed accomplice to a robbery that resulted in a fatality. Like so many, Reams was represented in court by a public defender. He was offered a plea bargain but refused to plead guilty, and at the age of 18, he became the youngest person sentenced to death by lethal injection in Arkansas. Kenneth Reams did not kill anyone, and yet he remains in solitary confinement without human contact to this day. Despite living in solitary confinement for the past 27 years, Reams has cultivated his practice as an artist, a poet, a writer, and the founder of the nonprofit organization Who Decides, Inc. Who Decides, Inc. is a national network of activists and volunteers working to educate the general public about the practice and history of capital punishment in the United States through various mediums of art. You can learn more about Kenneth on his website: http://www.freekennethreams.org
An attendee of one of Kenneth’s previous Create + Connect workshops reflected on the event:
“This workshop had a profound impact on me. This was my first window into seeing art as a vehicle and voice for incarcerated people. I was moved by Kenneth Reams’ personal story of perseverance… To witness incarcerated people creating the most profound and thought-provoking work with anything they can get their hands on in the most oppressive and restrictive conditions left me speechless and inspired.”
In next week’s workshop, Kenneth will be joined by Wanda Best, the Community Resource Developer for the domestic violence programs at Volunteers of America (VOA) of Greater New York. Wanda is also the founder and CEO of Art Transforms, Inc., a non-profit organization formed to bring art to communities of color. As a community activist she was one of the lead plaintiffs in the campaigns to reduce the cost of collect calls made by New York State prisoners to loved ones and the campaign to restore the right to vote to formerly incarcerated people on parole and probation in New York State. She is an artist painting the prison experience through the eyes of the families with incarcerated loved ones.
Much of Kenneth’s art is dedicated to illustrating the history and practice of capital punishment, and he also frequently depicts leaders in the civil rights movement and others who fight against racial and state violence. You can view more of Kenneth’s work on his website and in his portfolio.
If you’d like to support Kenny with a donation, you can do so here:
Venmo – @micah-herskind
Cashapp – @SK927
Paypal – firstname.lastname@example.org