Artist Spotlight: Daniel Martinez

by Melissa Wang, JAC Intern

I send this one out

To all the homeboys down in, uh, Clinton lockdown

Rikers Island, all them dudes I was, uh, locked up with

E block, F block, lower H

N-I-C in Rikers Island

Downstate

All the peoples I met along the way

Better days is comin’ homeboy, keep your head up

“Better Dayz” by Tupac ft. Mr. Biggs

“The words to this song is my life.” 

 Creativity runs in Daniel Martinez’s family. When he was young, his older brother Jesse would bring him drawing supplies, showing him new artistic techniques. His cousin taught him and his other brother Tommy how to tattoo, working with a homemade tattoo gun on orange Gatorade lids. One of Daniel’s sisters also grew up to be an amazing artist. In ninth grade, his art teacher told him, “If it wasn’t for you, I would quit my job.” Daniel looked around and realized he was the only one drawing – everyone else was goofing off. “That stuck with me until this day,” he says.

In and out of prison his whole life, and now serving a ten-year federal prison term, Daniel has continued to create. Artistic collaboration flourishes inside, where Daniel has picked up new styles and ways to be creative from other artists. He calls art his “escape in a place like this…medicine to my soul.” With over 1000 pieces created for other incarcerated folks and their loved ones, he reflects on how good it feels to “put a smile on someone’s face” as well as how “art can reunite a relationship.” Art is heart-song for both maker and viewer.

His drawings, for example, are the only method he has to communicate with his daughter. “I love my daughter so much but all I have to give is my art…I’ve only watched her grow through my drawings. I don’t know what to really write on her drawings, all I know is that me drawing pictures of her helps me make wise choices…She’s my everything, she’s all I live for.” 

Daniel Martinez

“Sometimes God doesn’t change our trails, but instead changes us in the midst of the trails.”

Throughout the chapters of Daniel’s life, some violent and others fragmented, art has remained a constant, accompanying him through his personal changes. Having lost his father at four years old, so young he didn’t even know to cry at the funeral, Daniel was raised along with his five siblings by his single mother. His family slept on the “hard, cold wooden floor with blankets.” He wore only hand-me-downs and blamed his mother for the shame it brought him at school. “I would blame her for everything,” he writes. “I was wrong for it. I regret it.”

Daniel Martinez

As a child, Daniel didn’t understand why they always had to walk home after grocery shopping, or why he had to carry the heavy gallons of milk. “It brings tears to my eyes as I’m writing this now,” says Daniel while recounting how he used to complain and make her life harder, not realizing that his mother was bone-tired and struggling.

Anger built in him as he was made fun of for his worn shoes, and he fought other kids at elementary school, especially those of other races. Toys were too expensive, so the only things he had to play with were coloring books and pencils. By high school, drawing had become an everyday routine, more interesting and engaging than classwork. Simultaneously, Daniel had also joined a gang.

Because his mother worked graveyard shifts, his apartment at night was full of his friends and other gang members, including his cousin, a tattoo artist. While on juvenile house arrest, he received his first tattoo, and from then on, got countless more. “I loved the art,” he writes. “Art, period, was my passion.”

Throughout high school, however, he continued to participate in gang activities, getting his family evicted multiple times. “I was never there to even help her, or my family, move all the boxes. I was out in the streets being selfish. I had LBPD break down my mother’s door at 4 AM. I had her go through so much…I was lost.” Even during times when Daniel was just hanging around with his friends, the police had it out for him. Over-policed and constantly surveilled, Daniel and his friends were brutalized by cops who had arrived to deal with a neighbor’s problem, just for sitting around.  

The police blindly tasered the people in the apartment, and Daniel notes that two people were struck and “dropped to the floor screaming.” Singled out by the cops, Daniel was cuffed while four officers took turns stomping on his back and punching and kicking him. It felt like his lungs were collapsed, and it was only thanks to a passerby ambulance worker who stepped in that he was taken to the hospital. After the incident, there was no one to coach him through legal proceedings; instead, he turned to art.

Daniel Martinez

In response to the attack, he drew a cop car being shot up, with the words “fuck pigs.” The police officers later returned, found the drawing, and began to target him even more. At that moment, he thought back to an encounter with his tenth-grade history teacher.

Although deprived of a father figure from a young age, Daniel recounts the importance of having someone who believed in him. In tenth grade, Daniel drew a picture of an armed man standing over four dead bodies, depicting the ways in which the world presented itself to him. “I would draw in class so much the teachers would…tell me to put it away. High school is where drawing really started to be in my everyday life.” It just so happened that his history teacher noticed Daniel’s drawing and asked to meet him after class to discuss the contents of the artwork.

His teacher asked him if his home life was alright, if there was anything he wanted to talk about. Daniel didn’t understand the concern. The teacher pointed at the man holding the gun in the drawing and asked who he was. It was then that Daniel processed all the red colored pencil he had used for the dead bodies and realized he was in trouble.

Instead of punishing Daniel for the violent drawing, the teacher had his next period class wait outside as he talked to Daniel about changing his life. “He cared about me and kept my drawing in his hand. He ripped it in front of me and threw it away. He promised not to call the principal,” remembers Daniel. As long as Daniel promised to let the teacher check up on him periodically about changing his life, and as long as he promised not to draw things like that again, the teacher would not report him.

“I wish I had listened to him,” reflects Daniel on the situation with his drawing of police. The teacher transferred schools shortly after Daniel’s tenth grade.

Coincidentally, however, Daniel frequently skipped all his classes except art class to “catch three busses to make it to Lakewood High School.” It was the only way he could see the girl he liked. He didn’t expect, one day, to lock eyes with that history teacher in the classrooms of Lakewood. At that very moment, the teacher paused his class to ask Daniel how he’d been. He asked Daniel if he was still drawing.

Although the teacher asked Daniel to come back after school to talk, Daniel ditched the meeting to spend time with the girl he liked. “I never had the chance to thank him for caring. He was a good man and cared for his students. Thank you for caring,” Daniel writes now.

Daniel Martinez

Since then, Daniel has gone through great personal change. Now out of the gang life, he is focused on fatherhood and publishing his own biography, passing down a lineage of care threaded through his family growing up to his partner and daughter now. “As you see,” he says, “all my artwork used to be about violence but in today’s life they’re all about love and my daughter.” He asked Justice Arts Coalition to share a message of gratitude: “I would like to thank my future wife, Shauna. We have our ups and downs. I understand how hard it has been for you, but no matter what you are still here. Eight years locked up and I have never been without, because of you. I love you.” 

Daniel also expressed appreciation for Jayme, the JAC volunteer he corresponds with, saying, “Every letter you send me becomes another stepping stone in my art life. Not only do you speak highly about my artwork, but you also take the time to check on my well-being. Your words describe my art in ways I’ve never heard before. You motivate me to see my own artwork as if the world needs to see them.” Finally, he thanked President Biden for choosing a woman as a vice president. “Women to me mean power and I see her making changes for everyone. She just made history.” 

His passion for art and for creating these networks of care and gratitude are deeply intertwined; since those little orange Gatorade lids, his creative practice has followed him through his personal transformations. Acknowledging his prejudiced attitudes in the past, he now says that he “grew out of that hate against other races. A lot of people say racism will never go away. I strongly believe that is wrong because I grew out of it. I would like to take this moment to apologize to everyone, or anyone, I have ever hurt in life.” His story exemplifies the ability of the human character to evolve, grow, and move toward better futures.

You can view Daniel Martinez’s portfolio here. If you would like to view more artists’ work and provide direct feedback, please attend our virtual ArtLinks event! If you are interested in connecting with an artist experiencing incarceration, please sign up for our pARTner Project! 

Kenneth Reams: Workshop and Art Auction

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.

“The Last Mile” by Kenneth Reams

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.

“Kenneth ‘Artist927’ Reams” by Kenny Reams

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.

“Solitary” by Kenneth Reams

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 – reams.kenny@gmail.com

We hope you will join us next Thursday for Create + Connect: In The Box with Kenneth Reams as well as consider participating in the auction of Kenny’s beautiful artwork. 

“Capitalization” by Kenneth Reams

Artist Spotlight: Derrick Grantley

by Joslyn Lapinski, JAC Intern

At just 15 years old, Derrick Grantley was incarcerated for a crime he did not commit. At 17, he was placed into solitary confinement, where he has remained for 21 consecutive years. “With no end in sight, I am still fighting my case in the court,” Derrick tells us. Day after day, there is temptation to lose hope, but Derrick holds his head high and continues to advocate for justice, both for himself and for others.

Derrick’s fighting spirit shows not only through his attitude and actions, but most of all – it shines through his words. In 2003, Derrick discovered songwriting and poetry, and in doing so, found solace from the overwhelming stress and depression that had been taking over his life since the start of his sentence. Derrick explains that he uses writing “as a way to express indignation against the injustices I see or experience myself.” He channels the anger and dissent he feels into poetry, and the results are incredibly powerful.

Derrick focuses his poetry on what is happening in the world around him. He writes about racial injustice, America’s political climate, COVID in prisons, and other poignant issues. He only writes about the topics that truly light a fire within him. It is this genuine passion behind his words that make his poems so impactful. Every one of his poems is written with conviction, intensity, and zeal. 

I can only write when I am caught up in the event at the moment in time. I have to be feeling the situation deep inside my bones and spirit, or else I can’t write about it.

Derrick takes his time to really think about what he wants to write before he gets it onto paper. Because of this, the pandemic has not hindered his creative process, but rather it has given him more topics to write about and more time to really sit and reflect on them. He has more fuel for his mental fire and more time to kindle it. Below is a poem called “Quarantine Wonders” that Derrick wrote to express his frustrations during the pandemic.

Will I live or will I die?
Is the question that I ask!
Co-vid 19, is in prisons,
on the attack
We were giving 2 mask
One soap, that’s it
For 7 months straight
I’ve been wearing the same s**t
Most officers walk thru,
with their face uncovered
Coughing and sneezing,
Everyday I’m worried
I know if I catch it,
my chance to recover,
As a Black man in the system
Is 1 out of a hundred!

What keeps Derrick going, even through the hardships he faces in solitary, is the fact that he is able to inspire others through his writing. He loves being able to share his work and to know that it is reaching people. “Receiving letters and feedback from people in the free world motivates me, and makes me proud to see that people are genuinely appreciative of my work. Knowing that there are some people who really care about people on the inside, also helps to inspire and motivate me to keep writing.”

You can view Derrick Grantley’s portfolio here. If you would like to view more artists’ work and provide direct feedback, please attend our virtual ArtLinks event! If you are interested in connecting with an artist experiencing incarceration, please sign up for our pARTner Project! 

Teaching Artist Spotlight: Joel Bergner

Joel Bergner (aka Joel Artista) is the CEO and Co-Founder of the non-profit organization Artolution, through which he trains and supports local artists in vulnerable communities to lead their own community art programs, affecting the lives of thousands of children each year. Artolution partners with UNICEF, the International Rescue Committee, UNHCR and other agencies to integrate community-based public art programming in humanitarian response around the world. 

Joel is an artist, educator and organizer of community-based public art initiatives with youth in conflict-affected and traumatized communities around the world, from Syrian refugee camps to American prisons; the favelas of Brazil to the Kibera Slum of Kenya. His elaborate, large-scale murals weave smoothly between realism with an urban art sensibility and the raw expressions of children, who learn to tell their stories through art. Joel travels the globe with his wife, CJ Thomas, who leads dance and theatre workshops, and their young daughter, Amara.

Artolution programs have served over 6,000 participants living in refugee, displaced, and underserved communities. They focus on building up local artists and leaders to support year-round programming in our core regions; Bangladesh, Uganda, Jordan, Colombia, and the United States. Artolution has trained a total of 68 artists around the world to run collaborative art-making programs.

JAC: What is Artolution’s mission and goal as an organization? 

JB: Artolution is a non-profit organization and a global movement. We focus on collaborative art-making as a way for people in vulnerable communities, and those who have experienced trauma to come together and have a platform that allows them to shape their own narratives, and tell their own stories, and also build healthy relationships along the way. We focus on many different types of art forms to do this, especially art forms that are in public spaces and in communities. We do community murals, and sculptures and different types of performance, like dance and theatre. We’ve done many virtual projects, as well, which brings together our different communities around the world. This includes animation projects, and storytelling, and digital art. We really work with many mediums but it always has this common element in it, which is that it’s collaborative, and really focuses on the participants themselves. Deciding what the artwork will be about, what the themes will be, what the imagery will be, what the composition will be, it always comes down to the participants deciding those things. 

I am a community artist, a mural artist, among other things, and I’m also the co-founder and co director of Artolution. I’ve been working on this concept of collaborative art making as a way to strengthen resilience in vulnerable communities, such as refugee camps and people who are incarcerated, for many years now. I have a background in not only public art, but also in counseling young people who have experienced trauma. And this is my passion. 

JAC: What inspired Artolution to look into expanding your programs into the criminal justice system? 

JB: Artolution has not yet done much work with those who have been involved in the criminal justice system but as a community artist, I have done a lot of that work in the past. I worked with women in a prison in Maryland, did many projects in juvenile detention centers, and in New York, I worked with young returning citizens. And during a time like this, in which a lot of programming is moving to the virtual space, it was something that we really wanted to just start focusing on – people who are incarcerated and people who have been affected by the justice system. I think these virtual projects really have a lot to offer. Because those who benefit the most from this type of program are those who are the most isolated, the most marginalized, those who are really separated from society. There’s no population more isolated than those who are incarcerated. We were able to get some small funds to focus on pilot projects with those in the justice system. We hope to be able to scale this up and have a full fledged program. 

“I didn’t know that I can draw in public, or be on a ladder like men, you [Artolution] didn’t change the whole society but changed something inside of me”

– Ayah, Female Syrian Youth

JAC: Considering the work Artolution has done, what is unique about the new initiatives you’re hoping to bring to carceral spaces?

JB: One thing that will make our program unique is that we’re really interested in connecting our participants with those in other parts of the world and other cultures. It’s a really educational experience to meet, be creative, and work on collaborative art projects with someone who has had many of the same life experiences as you have, but is from also a very different social context and from a different culture. Individuals affected by the criminal justice system, connecting online through these projects that focus on theater, animation, digital art, storytelling, and character development – all of our different virtual bridges programs. We’ll be matching people up from it from different countries but from similar age demographics, so we’ll connect youth with other youth or adults with other adults. Bringing together people across the United States, the UK, and other countries where we have programs, such as Uganda, Colombia and South America, among other places, is really the goal of our program. 

We focus on collaborative art making as a tool, and we have a couple different ways we’re planning to do this. So first, those who have access to the internet can participate in our regular virtual bridges programs. This would be people who have been released, on probation or even may be incarcerated. But it happens to be rare that programs allow online options. Although it’s not common, there are a few institutions that are allowing it. So for those who can connect on the internet, we have virtual projects on zoom in which teaching artists are guiding the participants through creation, skill building, learning skills such as digital art, animation, stop motion animation, as well as collaborative storytelling, and many other art forms. We’re also doing theater and drama. And so this will provide an opportunity in virtual spaces to come together with artists, with other participants in other countries to work on collaborative art projects, and to form new friendships and learn about other cultures and, and make those new relationships. I think that’s a big focus for us. 

The second category would be those who are currently incarcerated and are not able to connect via the internet, which is most people who are incarcerated. For those people, both youth and adults, we are focusing on several different types of programs. One is that we’re planning to release a series of video based projects, that align with our normal programs, that the facility can play. The videos show the teaching artists guiding participants in that facility through the project and through the art making process. They learn the same skills, depending on what kind of resources they have. Some of them are more tech based such as digital art, but then others are very analog. Writing, drawing, storytelling and just movements with your body. Very basic skills but very powerful skills that also allow people to to collaborate with one another on those projects.  

We are also seeking ways to connect family members who are separated because of incarceration. We’re developing a series of activity books that are meant to be shared through the mail. There’s one we’ve created that is geared towards children and their loved one who is incarcerated. It is a storytelling work packet so the child or the family member at home is guided through the process of creating a story that includes both some simple writing as well as drawing pictures, but they don’t create the whole story, they guide you through part of it. And then the person who is incarcerated creates another big section on the story, and then they send it back to their family to have the final part of the story created. They send it back and forth and at the end, the final product is this illustrated story created by both people that can be enjoyed after that. That’s an example of the kinds of work packets that we are doing and this is really geared towards families during COVID, where people are even more separated and have fewer and fewer opportunities for visits. So we really want to focus on different ways to connect children and their parents as well as other family members who are separated because of incarceration.

JAC: What are you hoping your programs will give to system impacted individuals?

JB: So basically, our main goal is connection. It’s all about relationship building, strengthening relationships, and strengthening resilience among people who are really facing a lot of challenges. It’s about skill building in the arts but we think of those skills as being a tool that individuals can use to connect to others, whether it’s connecting with family members, or with peers, or connecting with artists across the world. The common denominator is this idea that collaborative art making can form these connections, and that those connections are so important for the well being and the mental health of all of us.

JAC: How do you envision your programs operating with COVID-19 considerations? And how will they potentially evolve in the future? 

JB: All the programs that I mentioned that we’re working on are with COVID-19 taken into consideration. So we are also looking to do things like mural programs inside of prisons and things like that but because of COVID, we’re currently focusing on the virtual projects, on the workbooks, and on the video based programs. However, I think that many of these programs we have been developing because of COVID have actually opened us up to many different tools. And some programs we will use after COVID because many of these activities have proven to be really impactful. Some of the work we’re doing with animation, some of the work we’re doing bringing together young people across borders, to learn from each other and to connect with each other, all of those things have a lot of value, whether it’s there for the pandemic or not. And so, I see many of these tools we’re developing being relevant afterwards as well.

JAC: What support / connections are you looking for from the JAC Network and wider justice art community?

JB: We’re looking for a few things. I’ve been talking to several different organizations: we are interested in partnerships with like minded organizations, especially those who already have participants or people who think they would be interested in participating in these kinds of projects. We’re also looking for teaching artists who have experience with these types of projects and virtual projects. Especially those with experience in the criminal justice system. Artolution has a methodology and a training manual – we really focus on professional development of our teaching artists. So these would be paid positions, leading virtual workshops, at this point just virtual, in the future, maybe physical as well. But because of the virtual aspect, the teaching artists can be based anywhere, they just need to be open to leading a variety of different types of arts based workshops.

JAC: Is there anything else you’d like to add to our audience?

JB: The last thing would be just to say that we are very open. For Artolution, most of our experience has been in mural making and performances with refugees in refugee camps and things like that. So this is something that is new for us. For that reason, we would love to hear from organizations and teaching artists who have more experience who may already be developing similar types of projects. We’d love to collaborate, we’re very open to partnering. And so if anyone has comments, suggestions or questions or feedback or ways that we can improve the kinds of ideas that we’re currently working on, we’re open to all of that. 

Click here to learn more about Joel and Artolution, and click here to join them in reaching their goals.  

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.

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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.