Prison Nation

Posted February 12, 2013 by jmacphee in Justseeds Group Projects


A handful of Justseeds artists (Melanie Cervantes, Nicolas Lampert, Josh MacPhee, as well as work from the Voices from the Outside portfolio and the Celebrate People's History Poster Project) have work in this exhibition organized by the Center for the Study of Political Graphics. If you're in Southern California, check it out!

Prison Nation: Posters on the Prison Industrial Complex
January 19 - March 9, 2013
UC Merced Kolligian Library, 5200 N. Lake Rd., Merced, CA 95343

"Prison Nation: Posters on the Prison Industrial Complex" fulfills the Center for the Study of Political Graphic's (CSPG) mission to demonstrate the integral connection between art and social action. Powerful posters from artists, activists, and organizations around the country and the world, cry out against the devastating impact of the mass incarceration required to support the rapidly growing prison industrial complex (PIC). These graphics are evidence that there has never been a viable movement for social change without the arts being pivotal to conveying the ideas and passions of that movement. Grassroots efforts are more effective when strong graphics project their messages.

While funding for education and the arts plummets, funding for new prisons is skyrocketing. The United States has the largest prison population in the world-over 2.3 million people behind bars-quadrupling between 2008 and 2011. The U.S. has only 5% of the world's population yet we have 25% of the world's incarcerated population. Another sobering statistic is that black men are imprisoned four times more often than any other group: 1 out of 3 black men, 1 out of 6 Latino men, and 1 out of 17 white men will be imprisoned at some point in their lifetime.

The powerful posters in Prison Nation represent many of these issues-they document campaigns to expose horrifying conditions inside prisons; they challenge the economic and racial disparities of those most impacted by incarceration; and they record what has been a long standing, often lonely, struggle for those fighting to stop growing incarceration rates and the construction of more prisons and jails. The posters also reveal a growing awareness as contemporary poster artists around the country respond to the growing prison industry.

This unique exhibition is relevant both to the community most effected by growing incarceration and to artists, activists, students, teachers, social service agencies, and community leaders. The posters in Prison Nation cover many of the critical issues surrounding the system of mass incarceration including: the death penalty, the Three Strikes law, racism, access to education and health care, the growing rate of incarceration, slave labor, divestment, privatization, torture, and re-entry into the community. They show the power of art to educate and inspire.

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