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Past Exhibit

Barring Freedom

Oct. 23, 2020 - Jun. 1, 2021


San José Museum of Art
1110 S Market St, San Jose, CA 95113

Phone: (408) 271-6840

Date and Times

October 20, 2020- April 25, 2021
Thursday 4–9PM
Friday 11AM–9PM
Saturday 11AM–6PM
Sunday 11AM–6PM

Angela Davis stands with 2 people looking at black and white photographs

Watch Now: Angela Davis, Gina Dent, and Rachel Nelson in conversation at Barring Freedom

Barring Freedom is a group exhibition of contemporary art organized by UC Santa Cruz Institute of the Arts and Sciences (IAS) with San José Museum of Art.

Curated by Dr. Rachel Nelson, IAS Director, and Alexandra Moore, IAS Curatorial Fellow, Barring Freedom features works which aim to challenge the dominant ways people see and understand the complex nexus of policing, surveillance, detention, and imprisonment that makes up the nation’s prison industrial complex. With more than two million incarcerated people, a majority of them black or brown, virtually all of them from poor communities, the prison industrial complex reveals a troubled vision at the heart of the United States. Barring Freedom considers the strategies artists use to reveal this unjust worldview and confront the social problems it serves to obscure.

Artists: American Artist, Sadie Barnette, Sanford Biggers, Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick, Sonya Clark, Sharon Daniel, Maria Gaspar, Ashley Hunt, Dee Hibbert-Jones and Nomi Talisman, Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts, Deana Lawson, Sherrill Roland, Dread Scott, jackie sumell, Hank Willis Thomas, Patrice Renee Washington, Prison Renaissance, and Levester Williams.

Barring Freedom is supported by the SJMA Exhibitions Fund, with contributions from Glenda and Gary Dorchak and Rita and Kent Norton. The exhibition is made possible with generous support from the Nion McEvoy Family Trust, Ford Foundation, Future Justice Fund, Wanda Kownacki, Peter Coha, James L. Gunderson, Rowland and Pat Rebele, Porter College, UC Santa Cruz Foundation, and annual donors to the Institute of the Arts and Sciences.

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A single school desk and chair face a flat screen TV with an image of a blue man on it.

Web Resource

The Barring Freedom website provides digital tools and study guides to further explore issues of art and justice. It includes video interviews with the artists, thematic study guides, an archive of related “Visualizing Abolition” programs, “Music for Abolition”, a special series of music videos curated by Terri Lyne Carrington , as well as other resources.

a sculpture of a prison cell sits surrounded by plants on a hill overlooking the ocean

Solitary Garden

Solitary Garden is a participatory public sculpture and garden project at UC Santa Cruz created by award-winning artist jackie sumell in collaboration with Tim Young, currently on Death Row in San Quentin State Prison as he fights to prove his innocence in the California appellate court system.


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Learn More


March 17, 2021

SF Chronicle Datebook

Exhibits convey incarcerated artists’ spirit: ‘No matter what I did … there’s beauty inside me’, SF Chronicle Datebook

March 30, 2021


Museum Highlights, SF/ARTS