A Critical Resistance Donor Call, May 2016

Since the founding of Critical Resistance, we have modeled that cultural practice and art are critical components of the fight for prison industrial complex (PIC) abolition. The power of reclaiming culture taken from communities through centuries of colonization, genocide, and social and economic repression and the practices of creating are acts of resistance. The conversation explored the ways that Art and Abolition intertwine, and how cultural workers are helping us envision the world we want to live in and what we need to build to get there.

Our featured participants:

A member of the Oakland-based arts collaboration, Dignidad RebeldeMelanie Cervantes is a Xicana activist-artist whose work includes black and white illustrations, paintings, installations and paper stencils. She is best known, however, for her prolific political screen prints and posters which have been used by movements across the globe.  Employing vibrant colors and hand-drawn illustrations, her work moves those viewed as marginal to the center — featuring powerful youth, elders, women, and queer and indigenous peoples. 

kai lumumba barrow, a co-founder and former staff member of Critical Resistance, is now artistic director of Gallery of the Streets in New Orleans, LA. She writes, “opportunities to strategically and intentionally focus radical imagination—for example through the process of art-making—are critical to developing movement-building strategy and concretizing our dreams and hopes.// I am invested in the principles, values, and aspirations of the Black radical tradition…what role has art and culture played in producing trends and opportunities for social, political, and economic change?” 

Ashley Hunt’s current project, Degrees of Visibility, is a large body of landscape photographs from throughout the fifty U.S. states and territories, documenting spaces in which prisons sit from publicly available points of view — looking at how prisons are presented and camouflaged within our everyday perception, forming a part of an aesthetics of mass incarceration. Rather than seeing art and activism as two exclusive spheres of practice, he approaches them as mutual and complimentary. Hunt is a longtime fellow traveler of CR, contributing videos to CR East and CR South conferences (2001 and 2003, respectively) and working on the Materials/propaganda and Documentation committees for our 10-year anniversary conference, CR10 (2008). Hunt currently co-directs the Program in Photography and Media at California Institute of the Arts and is on the faculty of the Visual Arts MFA program at Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Check out more Critical Resistance Donor Calls & Webinars here.