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ASU Art Museum receives $250,000 Art for Justice grant to support groundbreaking exhibition


Image credit: Jeremy Bentham, "Plan of the Panopticon" in The Works of Jeremy Bentham vol. IV (Edinburgh- William Tait, 1838-1843), 172-3.

Image credit: Jeremy Bentham, "Plan of the Panopticon" in The Works of Jeremy Bentham vol. IV (Edinburgh- William Tait, 1838-1843), 172-3.

August 18, 2020

ASU Art Museum has been awarded a $250,000 grant from the Art for Justice Fund, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, Inc. for the implementation of the upcoming exhibition “Undoing Time: Art and Histories of Incarceration,” opening in fall 2021. 

This groundbreaking exhibition will trace the history of art and images that have contributed to the entrenched cultural belief systems associated with the criminal justice system today. “Undoing Time” considers the foundational roots of confinement from philosophical, sociological, theological and art historical perspectives to better understand the fact that today’s mass incarceration crisis was centuries in the making. The exhibition will analyze historical images of incarceration and put them in direct conversation with newly commissioned works of contemporary art.

“The generosity and vision of Agnes Gund and the Art for Justice Fund is making possible an unprecedented opportunity for the ASU Art Museum to partner with 12 extraordinary artists and co-create an exhibition that examines how the history of art has perpetuated certain narratives and obscured others with relation to our modern-day understandings of incarceration," said Miki Garcia, director of the museum and co-curator for the exhibition. "James Baldwin wrote, ‘The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.’ Inviting scholars, community members and artists into the making of this project, the exhibition seeks to contribute critique histories and offer new possibilities and imaginations for the future.”

“Undoing Time” is co-curated by Garcia, curator Heather Sealy Lineberry, LACMA-ASU Curatorial Fellow Matthew Villar Miranda and curator Julio César Morales, and features artists Carolina Aranibar-Fernández, Juan Brenner, Raven Chacon, Sandra de la Loza, Ashley Hunt, Cannupa Hanska Luger, Michael Rohd, Paul Rucker, Xaviera Simmons, Stephanie Syjuco, Vincent Valdez and Mario Ybarra Jr.

The Art for Justice Fund’s spring 2020 grantee cohort includes over $14 million in funding to 47 artists and advocates focused on ending mass incarceration. This amount includes $2.5 million in emergency public health funding to address COVID-19 in prisons, jails and detention facilities. 

“Our mission to decarcerate remains ever urgent, particularly for Black and brown communities,” said Helena Huang, Art for Justice project director. “Our investment in this cohort continues to challenge the notion of who is incarcerated and why, fight excessive sentences and eliminate the discriminatory barriers people face when they return home. Many of our grantee partners work across these areas and across the divisions of art and advocacy, which is a more powerful way to scale up and shore up change.”

The full list of spring 2020 grantee partners span four categories of work:

  • Keeping people out of jail and prison.

  • Shortening excessive prison sentences.

  • Improving reentry into the community.

  • Changing narratives about criminal justice.

With Art for Justice’s support, grantees will work to close prisons and create community alternatives for youth, raise awareness of the needs of women who are incarcerated and children who have incarcerated parents, and implement campaigns to change criminal justice policies and practices at the state and local levels. Learn more about Art for Justice.

The ASU Art Museum was previously awarded a $125,000 planning grant from Art for Justice to conduct initial research for the exhibition. 

For more information on the museum, visit asuartmuseum.asu.edu.

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