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Photo/Video Caption: Caption

Ashley Hunt

Degrees of Visibility/ Ashes Ashes

February 5, 2023 - April 16, 2023


Institute of the Arts and Sciences
100 Panetta Ave, Santa Cruz, CA
P (831) 459-0111

Dates and Times

February 5, 2023 - April 16, 2023
12-5 p.m. Daily
Closed Mondays

Two people stand at a table looking through poster sized images of landscapes

The hundreds of photographs which compose Degrees of Visibility chart the proliferation of jails, prisons, and detention centers across the United States. Taken from publicly accessible viewpoints, the images reveal how sites of punishment—and the more than two million people incarcerated across the nation—disappear from sight. A photograph of Marin County Jail, for instance, shows the bucolic green hill which hides the facility in which 274 individuals are imprisoned. With the jail buried in the lush landscape, the crisis of incarceration is hidden from view in one of the richest counties in the nation. 

Hunt’s work also serves as a reminder that what has been built can be demolished —and abolished. This attention to the transformative is emphasized both by the plywood building materials used in the installation of Degrees of Visibility and the other artwork on view, Ashes Ashes. This two-channel video creatively connects events ranging from the scheduled closure of Rikers Island Jail Complex, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the 2020 Black Lives Matter uprisings. Out of these manifestations of social catastrophe a possible future emerges in which all prisons are closed.

Ashley Hunt: Degrees of Visibility/ Ashes Ashes is organized by Rachel Nelson and Gina Dent as part of Visualizing Abolition, a public scholarship initiative at UC Santa Cruz designed to shift the social attachment to prisons through art and education. Funding for Visualizing Abolition is provided by the Mellon Foundation.

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Person squats on the floor next to framed photographs

About the Artist

Ashley Hunt is an artist and writer based in Los Angeles, where he is faculty at the California Institute of the Arts. In works including Corrections Documentary Project (2001–10), Prison Maps (2002), A World Map in Which We See… (2004–07), Notes on the Emptying of a City (2006–10), and Degrees of Visibility (2010–present), Hunt works in dialogue with movement-building and grassroots organizations, including Critical Resistance, the California Coalition for Women Prisoners, Citizens for Quality Education, Southerners on New Ground, and Friends and Family of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children. His works have shown in venues ranging from community centers to prisons to museums, including Pitzer Art Galleries, CA; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Project Row Houses, Houston; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Tate Modern, London; Documenta 12, Germany, and Sinopale Biennial, Turkey. His writings include the book, Notes on the Emptying of a City, and have appeared in the Oxford Encyclopedia of Criminology and Criminal Justice; X-TRA Contemporary Art Quarterly, and the Los Angeles Review of Books.


Artist Interview