Barring Freedom

Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts, Untitled (from the Redaction project). 2019.
Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts, Untitled (from the Redaction project). 2019

Barring Freedom is a bi-coastal exhibition of contemporary art organized by UC Santa Cruz Institute of the Arts and Sciences (IAS) in collaboration with San José Museum of Art and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

With more than two million incarcerated people in the United States, a majority of them black or brown, virtually all of them from poor communities, Barring Freedom brings together artists who practices creatively challenge one of the obstacles to justice in the United States: the failure of many to see the biases within the criminal justice system—or to comprehend the social problems that the system serves to obscure. Featuring sculpture, photography, video installations, and works in other media, Barring Freedom considers the tactics artists use to expose the structural racism embedded within the systems of policing and mass incarceration, to render perceptible the social and psychological effects of the carceral state, and to counter the dehumanization which naturalizes these injustices. 

Organized by curators Rachel Nelson and Alexandra Moore for UC Santa Cruz Institute of the Arts and Sciences, artists in the exhibition include American Artist; Sadie Barnette; Sanford Biggers; Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick; Sonya Clark; Sharon Daniel; Maria Gaspar, Ashley Hunt; Dee Hibbert-Jones; Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts; Deana Lawson; Prison Renaissance; Sherrill Roland; Dread Scott; jackie sumell; Hank Willis Thomas; Patrice Renee Washington; Levester Williams. 

Barring Freedom emerges from a deep history of scholarship and activism at UC Santa Cruz. Current and emeritus faculty at the university, including Angela Davis, Craig Haney, and Gina Dent, have for decades been powerful leaders in prison abolition and reform efforts. Critical Resistance, the ongoing international movement to end the prison industrial complex was born on this campus in 1997. Twenty years after the birth of that movement, Barring Freedom seeks to build on that legacy and energize activists. The prison industrial complex reveals a deeply troubled vision at the heart of this nation, a vision that has led to the highest rates of incarceration in the world, and stark racial disparities in those who fill our prisons. Barring Freedom brings people together to propel a new vision for the end of these profound injustices.

Exhibition Dates:

San José Museum of Art
October 24, 2020-March 21, 2021

UC Santa Cruz 
Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery
January 12-March 21, 2021

John Jay College of Criminal Justice
New York, Shiva Gallery 
April 28-July 29, 2021