Sep 9th 2016

Mitigating Evidence

@ Chicago Art Department

1932 S. Halsted St, #100 & #101, Chicago, IL 60608

Opening Friday, September 9th, from 6PM - 10PM

On view through Tuesday, October 4th

An exhibition of art and writing by people who are or were incarcerated in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (CCJTDC) and Stateville Correctional Center.

Opens September 9, 2016, 6:00-10:00pm.
Private viewings by appointment and programmed events through October 4th, 2016.

Mitigating Evidence is a strategy to interrupt the presumptions, stereotypes and fears about people in detention, jail, and prison. Mitigating Evidence is a space in which incarcerated artists are reclaiming their artistry, authorship, and, therefore, their humanity. Mitigating evidence is presented in legal proceedings, either to impact the court’s decision or to alleviate harsh sentencing. Presenting a curated selection of work made by participants of Free Write Arts and Literacy and the Prison Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP), the exhibition will offer community members the opportunity to view a wide range of art and writing, learn about issues of incarceration in Illinois, and respond to the sociopolitical climate that has given rise to the Prison-Industrial Complex.

Author Reginald Dwayne Betts says about this exhibition:

“In determining what can be admitted, the judge, relying on the rules of evidence, determines when the story begins. This is the kind of power that alters lives forever, cabining all that matters in a person’s life to the brief time before or after some tragedy occurred, as if their childhood, their future, should not factor into what we imagine as possible, as needed. Mitigating Evidence is the place that subverts this practice.”

The exhibition will feature self-portraits, a retrospective of Free Write and PNAP student work, a listening station featuring audio recordings of student compositions, and a multimedia timeline that juxtaposes significant events related to criminalization and prison reform with the power of the personal narrative. In conjunction to the exhibition, the opening will celebrate the publication of Free Write’s seventh anthology of student writing and art.

Mitigating Evidence is the fifth exhibition of Free Write student work hosted by Chicago Art Department and the first collaborative effort between Free Write and PNAP. Since 2000, Free Write has facilitated creative writing workshops, one-on-one literacy tutoring, and arts programming for youth in the CCJTDC. Since 2011, PNAP has facilitated art and humanities classes for men incarcerated in Stateville Prison, located in Crest Hill, Illinois.

Mitigating Evidence opens at Chicago Art Department during the Chicago Arts District 2nd Fridays gallery night.

Curated by Free Write staff members Mathilda de Dios, Elgin-Bokari Smith, Roger Bonair Agard, and Ryan Keesling; PNAP staff members Tess Landon, Damon Locks, Alexandra Antoine, and Sarah Ross; and Chicago Art Department artist and curator Chelsea Ross.

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