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Photo/Video Caption: Charles Gaines, Sky Box II, 2020; acrylic, digital print, aluminum, polyester film, and LED lights; courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Installation view in New Work: Charles Gaines, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2021. Photo: Katherine Du Tiel

Seeing through Stone

Institute of the Arts and Sciences

April 12, 2024- January 5, 2025
100 Panetta Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA Hours: 12- 5 p.m. Daily (Closed Mondays)

San José Museum of Art

April 26, 2024- January 5, 2025
110 S. Market St., San José, CA Hours: Thursday 4–9PM Friday 11AM–9PM Saturday and Sunday 11AM–6PM (Closed Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday)

Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos

April 19, 2024- January 5, 2025
1817 Soquel Ave, Santa Cruz, CA Hours: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 12–5PM (Closed Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday)

Gabriela Mureb, Machine #4: Stone (Crank), 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Central Galeria, Brasil. Photo by Daris Jasper @culturesaving.

Seeing Through Stone

Prisons are so ingrained in history and the cultural imagination as to appear inevitable. From current structures of prisons, jails, and immigrant detention centers to past manifestations, such as Native American boarding schools and American chattel slavery, our world is bound together by carceral structures that equate punishment with justice. Yet as long as prisons have existed, alternatives to prison have also flourished. When poet Etheridge Knight (1931–1991) wrote from Indiana State Prison in 1968 of “seeing through stone,” he evoked the secret eyes of those able to see beyond the realities of prison to a world otherwise.

The eighty-five artists and collectives in Seeing through Stone see otherwise. Sharing a capacity for radical sight, they include currently and formerly incarcerated artists alongside those without that lived experience from different sociopolitical contexts around the globe. Their projects include supporting creative networks in Guantanamo, educating youth in Rio de Janeiro, and organizing landless farmers in the Philippines, as well as more poetic and conceptual projects engaging an aesthetics of abolition. Their work brings into view a world where people seek safety with, rather than from, one another; where medicine grows from prison manure and land is cultivated for food, not capital; where blue finally means sky. 

In sixteen newly commissioned projects, alongside other works of video, painting, sculpture, installation, sound, and performance, across three exhibition sites, Seeing through Stone provides a model of hope in practice. The exhibition is a celebration of the expanding constellation of abolition: the organizing, dreaming, world-making, and creative activism around the globe that offers ways to see—and live– differently. 


Daniel Alas, Moath Al Alwi, Ghaleb Al-Bihani, Frank Alejandrez, Al-Haq’s Forensic Architecture Investigation Unit, Juan Arredondo, Robert Barber, Sadie Barnette, Albert Bell, Rebecca Belmore, Dawin Billingsley, Imani Jacqueline Brown (with Les Cenelles), Mark Cadiz, Ben Chandler, Christopher Christensen, Coletivo Corpos Indóceis e Mentes Livres, Sharon Daniel, Ronald Davenport, Cian Dayrit, Joseph Dole, Caleb Duarte with Santa Cruz Barrios Unidos, Vitória Daiane Emídio dos Santos, Explode! (Cláudio Bueno, João Simões, and collaborators), Darrell Fair, Flávia Ferreira dos Santos, The Freedom Theatre, Frente 3 de Fevereiro, Charles Gaines, Guillermo Galindo, Aimee Gana, Maria Gaspar, Gabriela Golder, Roquelina Gomes de Souza, Patricia Gómez and Maria Jesús González, Chantell Gosztyla, Shilpa Gupta, Jessica Macie Hann, Sky Hopinka, Ashley Hunt, Jonathan Huynh, Jeffrey Isom, Donnie Wayne Ivy, Steffani Jemison, Micheal Jones, Alejandro Jotelo, Sofia Karim, Bouchra Khalili, Robert King, Juan Luna, Jose-Luis, Poipi Mabo-Harrison, Eric Maciel, Bryan Matheson, Nathaniel McCray, Jessie Milo, Carlos Motta, Mulheres Possíveis Project, Gabriela Mureb, Hương Ngô, Brad Odell, O grupo inteiro (Carol Tonetti, Cláudio Bueno, Ligia Nobre, Vitor Cesar with Vanessa Soares, and Lorran Dias), John Ortega, Robert Ortiz, Samora Pinderhughes, Khalid Qasim, Mesro Dhu Rafa’a, George Red, Sherrill Roland, Tiffanie Sedgwick, Ronnie Shelton, Gwenda Skeen, Kyeemah Skeen, Harold Smith, Orlando Smith, Sable Elyse Smith, Mark Anthony Stanley, Paul Stauffer, Ronald Steele, Doris Sterling, jackie sumell, Sisters Inside (Australia), Tea Project (Amber Ginsburg & Aaron Hughes), Timesfive (Moira Murdock & jackie sumell), Luis Trevino, Ernesto Valle, Hajra Waheed, Rachel Wallis with Mariame Kaba, Levester Williams, Lovelyocean Williams, Timothy James Young

Opening Celebration Events:

April 12, 2024, 6-8 pm: Opening Celebration at the Institute of the Arts and Sciences
April 19, 2024, 6-8 pm: Opening Celebration at Barrios Unidos
April 26, 2024 6-9 pm: Opening Celebration at San José Museum of Art

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