a color filled painting featuring a man standing at the center surrounded by paintings and drawings in an art studio
San Quentin Arts in Corrections Art Studio, 2008
Acrylic on canvas

Ronnie Goodman, Courtesy of William James Association

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is the current destination for the acclaimed exhibition, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration curated by Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood. Marking Time explores the impact of the US prison system on contemporary visual art. This exhibition, presented across three galleries —Latimer, Exhibition Hall, and Media Gallery— highlights artists who are or have been incarcerated, alongside artists who have not been incarcerated but whose practices expose aspects of the carceral state. Seen together, their works reveal how punitive governance, predatory policing, surveillance, and mass imprisonment impact millions of people. Forty artists appear in Marking Time, including Cedar Annenkovna, American Artist, Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter aka Isis Tha Saviour, Sara Bennett, Kristina Bivona, Conor Broderick, Keith Calhoun & Chandra McCormick, Susan Lee-Chun, Daniel McCarthy Clifford, Tameca Cole, Larry Cook, Russell Craig, Halim Flowers, Henry Frank, Gwendolyn Garth, Maria Gaspar, Dean Gillispie, Ronnie Goodman, Gary Harrell, James "Yaya" Hough, Ashley Hunt, Jesse Krimes, William B. Livingston III, Mark Loughney, Ojore Lutalo, C.A. Massey, George Anthony Morton, Ndume Olatushani, Jesse Osmun, Jared Owens, Kenneth Reams, Rowan Renee, Gilberto Rivera, Billy Sell, James Sepesi, Sable Elyse Smith, Todd (Hyung-Rae) Tarselli, Jerome Washington, and Aimee Wissman.

Dr. Fleetwood references the Schomburg Center’s collections in her companion book of the same name, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration. An important organization in the proliferation of prison art programs, whose organizational papers and letters are in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Books division, was the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC), organized in the late 1960s by Benny Andrews and a host of artists active in the Black Arts Movement. Dr. Fleetwood writes, “the BECC’s mission hinged on a belief in art as a tool of revolution and on an idea of healing that was generated by Attica prisoners in their manifesto.”

Art made in prisons is crucial to contemporary culture, though it has been largely excluded from established art institutions and public discourse. Marking Time aims to shift aesthetic currents, offering new ways to envision art and to understand the reach of the carceral state on life today. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood, James Weldon Johnson Professor of Media at NYU, 2021 MacArthur Fellow, NYPL Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center Fellow and 2007 Schomburg Center Scholar in Residence with support by exhibition coordinator Steven G. Fullwood, Novella Ford, Associate Director of Public Programs and Exhibitions at the Schomburg, and the assistance of graduate researchers Eva Cilman and Xavier Hadley. Press Release

The exhibition will be accompanied by a dynamic series of public programs, performances and education initiatives organized with several community partners. 

The exhibition debuted September 17, 2020, at MoMA PS1 and was organized by Fleetwood with assistant curators Amy Rosenblum-Martín, Jocelyn Miller, and Josephine Graf. 

Installation Images

Marking Time, presented across three galleries —Latimer, Exhibition Hall, and Media Gallery— highlights artists who are or have been incarcerated, alongside artists who have not been incarcerated but whose practices expose aspects of the carceral state. This is a small selection of work currently on view.

Exhibition entry way with yellow/brownish flooring and hanging artwork on the right wall and black text on a white wall with a title that reads Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Pete Riesett/NYPL

White wall with three framed pieces of artwork and two white hanging cases of flat archival material

Pete Riesett/NYPL

Four hanging digital screens with colorful collages and one that reads in white letters Marking Time

Pete Riesett/NYPL

Media Gallery
OJORE LUTALO, Untitled, n.d., Digitized-Photocopied collage posters
Long description:

Pictured: 

SABLE ELYSE SMITH

Backbend, 2019

Powder coated aluminum

Courtesy of the artist, JTT, New York and Carlos/Ishikawa, London

Composed of tables and stools similar to those found in prison visiting rooms, Sable Elyse

Smith’s Backbend transforms penal matter into art.

JESSE KRIMES

Tumbling Blocks, 2019

Hand-sewn fabric, image transfer, fabric paint

Tumbling Blocks is part of Voices from the Heartland, a quilt series

MARIA GASPAR

Wretched and Paramount I-VI, 2014–2016

Inkjet prints on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Sourced from Google Earth

Courtesy of the artist

Maria Gaspar’s solo and collaborative art examines the impact of Chicago’s Cook County Jail,

one of the largest jails in the nation, on its surrounding community.

CHANDRA MCCORMICK and KEITH CALHOUN

Black and white pigment prints

Courtesy of the artist

Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick document the long-term impact of prisons on Black

communities in Louisiana, from the perspectives of those directly affected.

Pete Riesett/NYPL

Exhibition Hall
Pictured: SABLE ELYSE SMITH, Backbend, 2019; JESSE KRIMES, Tumbling Blocks, 2019; MARIA GASPAR, Wretched and Paramount I-VI, 2014–2016; CHANDRA MCCORMICK and KEITH CALHOUN, Black and white pigment prints.
White L-shaped wall with six framed photographs in a grid and one black and white photo

Pete Riesett/NYPL

Man in white t-shirt with khaki pants and mustard colored workboots kneels in front of a painted canvans backdrop of a city skyline

Larry Cook

The Visiting Room #4
2019
Digital print
In the foreground there's a large multicolored, four panel painting in a gallery space

Pete Riesett/NYPL

Latimer Gallery
RUSSELL CRAIG, I Am Groot, 2002, Acrylic on textiles and leather purse fragments
Russell Craig developed his portraiture skills while imprisoned in various facilities in Pennsylvania. Craig reflects, “Art was a way to distract me from the reality of being in a prison. Then eventually I started thinking, ‘Somehow I’m going to be an artist.’” Over the course of his incarceration in youth facilities and adult prisons, Craig trained and experimented as an artist, focusing on self-portraiture and portraits of loved ones and other incarcerated people.

Exhibition Tours

Group of diverse people on a tour of an exhibition with black text on a white wall that reads Marking Time: Art In the Age of Mass Incarceration

Free 45-minute tours of the Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration exhibition will take place on select Tuesdays at 12:00 PM and additional days noted on the registration page. The tour is limited to the first 15 people who sign up.

While you’re here! Explore the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture—founded in 1925 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2017—is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. Also, visit the Schomburg Shop or shop online at schomburgshop.com.

Free Talks & Programs

Black woman in a turquoise dress standing at a podium with an orange sign and blue background image.
Nicole Fleetwood, Marking Time opening program

William Farrington/Schomburg Center

FALL PROGRAMS 2023

 

EXHIBITION CLOSING & PUBLIC PROGRAM The Afterlives of Incarceration

Monday, December 4, 2023  |  6 PM - 9 PM

Experience Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration in all three galleries (10 AM - 9 PM) and stay for a timely discussion, Afterlives of Incarceration, at 7 PM with curator Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood, Dr. Reuben Jonathan Miller, Dr. Emily Wang. Dr. Miller is Associate Professor in the Crown Family School and Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation. Dr. Wang is a professor in the Yale School of Medicine and directs the SEICHE Center for Health and Justice. Support for The Afterlives of Incarceration is provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

WATCH

 

BETWEEN THE LINES: WHO WOULD BELIEVE A PRISONER?

Thursday, October 19, 2023  |  6:30 PM

What if prisoners were to write the history of their own prison? What might that tell them—and all of us—about the roots of the system that incarcerates so many millions of Americans? Join us for a conversation about mass incarceration and the the roots of America’s first prison for women with Michelle Daniel Jones and Elizabeth Angeline Nelson, editors of Who Would Believe a Prisoner? Indiana Women’s Carceral Institutions, 1848–1920. The Indiana Women’s Prison History Project worked under conditions of sometimes-extreme duress, excavating documents, navigating draconian limitations on what information incarcerated scholars could see or access, and grappling with the unprecedented challenges stemming from co-authors living on either side of the prison walls.

WATCH

 

SCHOMBURG OPEN HOUSE

Saturday, November 4, 2023  |  11:30 AM - 6 PM

Open House weekend is an invitation to discover archival collections with our curators, explore our exhibitions with unique activations, tours, and workshops, and learn about our approach to research, preservation, and interpretation of materials and ideas focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences.  Join us for a series of exhibition tours, workshops, and artists responses to themes presented in our current exhibition Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration.

1:30 PM | Dear Keith Workshop with The Healing Project & musician Samora Pinderhughes 30-45mins

The Healing Project will host a letter-writing workshop and activation in support of incarcerated artist Keith LaMar and people in our communities currently incarcerated. Keith has spent over 30 years in solitary confinement, on death row in Ohio after being framed for a prison riot in 1993. Keith is currently scheduled for execution in January 2027, and there is a global effort to campaign and fight for his release. The Healing Project, an abolitionist music and art collective founded by composer Samora Pinderhughes, launched “Letters to Keith” to gather as many letters of support as possible to build momentum towards his cause of freedom. Samora will be leading attendees in the process of writing letters for Keith and other loved ones behind bars, as well as curating a playlist that illuminates the important history of music in prisons. For more information about the Healing Project, visit www.healingprojectsound.com 

1:45 PM | Artist Response: Liza Jessie Peterson Peterson is a playwright, actor, activist, and educator who has worked steadfast with incarcerated populations for more than two decades. Her critically acclaimed one woman show, the Peculiar Patriot, was nominated for a drama desk award, Elliot Norton and a recipient of a Lilly Award.

2:30 PM | On Lineage: Making Art as Archive with Shani Jamila 90mins, Registration requested

This workshop will lead attendees through a process designed to unearth the stories that can spark an artistic archive. Shani Jamila is a conceptual artist & cultural producer who explores identity formation in African American and African diasporic communities. 

3:00 PM | Artist Response: James Scruggs presents "I Am Not What Happened to Me" Scruggs has invited a collaborator to present an adaptation from his theatrical work titled "I Am Not What Happened to Me." Scruggs is a writer, performer, producer, teacher, speaker and arts administrator who creates large scale, topical, theatrical, multi-media work usually focused on inequity or gender politics. 

3:45 PM | Artist Response: Thaddeus S. Fitzpatrick Fitzpatrick is a Wyoming born, Alabama raised actor and writer who currently resides in Harlem, NY with a focus in intergenerational and intersectional healing through storytelling. 

 

FILM SCREENING: MASTER OF LIGHT

Wednesday, October 11, 2023  |  6:30 PM

Join us for a screening of this deeply personal film, featuring George Anthony Morton, a classical painter who spent ten years in federal prison for dealing drugs. While incarcerated, he nurtured his craft and unique artistic ability. Morton is one of 40 artists currently featured in the Schomburg exhibition Marking Time. He journeys back to his hometown of Kansas City, where he faces his past in a quest to rewrite the script of his life and discover the contribution of African influences to the realist tradition. Morton will be in conversation  following the screening, with Calder Zwicky, executive director of Artistic Noise, a Harlem-based nonprofit organization that brings the power of artistic practice to young people who are system-involved and others throughout the community.

WATCH

 

SPRING PROGRAMS 2023

IN-GALLERY CONVERSATION WITH GEORGE ANTHONY MORTON

Tuesday, May 23, 2023  |  1 PM  | Latimer Gallery

Join us for a conversation with artist George Anthony Morton. During his nine years in federal prison, Morton focused on portraiture by studying the “Old Masters” of pre-nineteenth-century Europe, using his research as a way to manage penal time and as a rebuke to his punitive sentence. While on parole, Morton was accepted to the Florence Academy of Art, which emphasizes classical European aesthetic traditions. His painting Mars (2016) is inspired by Portrait of Juan de Pareja (1650) by Diego Velázquez; Juan de Pareja was a notable painter who was enslaved by Velázquez and is the current subject of the exhibition Juan de Pareja: Afro-Hispanic Painter, on view at The Met featuring items from the Schomburg's collections. Come early to experience Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration in all three galleries and hear from Morton about his process and influences on his artwork.

EXHIBITION OPENING RECEPTION & PUBLIC PROGRAM

Monday, May 1, 2023  |  5 PM - 9 PM

Experience Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration in all three galleries and stay for a timely artist and curator talk and an immersive musical performance.

5:30 PM Book Signing with Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood, author of "Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration." Books will be available for purchase from the Schomburg Shop.

7:00 PM Curator Introduction and Artist Talk featuring Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood, artists Gwendolyn Garth, Ndume Olatushani, Gilberto Rivera, and Sable Elyse Smith moderated by Marking Time Exhibition Coordinator, Steven G. Fullwood

8:00 PM ECHOES | GESTURES | ABOLITION, live performance of "Second to Last" featuring composer, musician and scholar Kwami Coleman and percussionist Shakoor Hakeem

WATCH

 

FROM THE ARCHIVE | Between the Lines: Marking Time by Nicole Fleetwood with Elizabeth Hinton

Monday, September 21, 2020

Revisit the September 2020 conversation between curator Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood and historian Dr. Elizabeth Hinton discussing Fleetwood’s book, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration. The book is based on interviews with artists currently and formerly incarcerated, prison visits, and the author’s own family experiences with the penal system. Presented in partnership with NYPL, The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.

WATCH

 

FROM THE ARCHIVE | Between the Lines: Chasing Me to My Grave by Winfred Rembert

Conversation with Patsy Rembert, Erin I. Kelly, and Nicole R. Fleetwood

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Winfred Rembert (1945-2021) was an artist from Cuthbert, Georgia. In 1970, while Rembert was in prison and doing forced labor near Turner County, GA, he met his future wife Patsy Rembert. It was Patsy who first convinced her husband to pursue art seriously, and to tell his life story visually, using the leather-tooling skills he had learned in prison. His paintings on carved and tooled leather have been exhibited at museums and galleries across the country, and compared to the work of Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, and Horace Pippin. Rembert was honored by the Equal Justice Initiative in 2015, awarded a United States Artists Barr Fellowship in 2016, and is the subject of two award-winning documentary films: All Me and Ashes to Ashes. Chasing Me to My Grave presents Rembert’s breathtaking body of work alongside his story, as told to philosopher Erin I. Kelly.

WATCH

 

 

Research the Schomburg Collections

Black and white page of text and image with the title BECC Art Programs

Black Emergency Cultural Coalition Records, 1971-1984 | Sc MG 399

Black Emergency Cultural Coalition Inc. (BECC) was organized in January 1969 by a group of African American artists in response to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Harlem on My Mind exhibit, which omitted the contributions of African American painters and sculptors to the Harlem community. Members of this initial group that protested against the exhibit included several prominent African American artists, including Benny Andrews and Clifford R. Joseph, cofounders of the BECC. The primary goal of the group was to agitate for change in the major art museums in New York City for greater representation of African American artists and their work in these museums, and that an African American curatorial presence would be established. In 1971 the work of the Coalition grew to include the creation of an Arts Exchange program in correctional facilities. This program arose in response to major riots at the Attica correctional facility in New York. The BECC was stirred by the prisoner's demands for rights and justice. The first class in September 1971 was held at the Manhattan House of Detention.  (Source: Finding Aid)

 

Black Voices From Prison | Sc 810.8-K

Black Voices from Prison is a collection of poetry by Etheridge Knight and other inmates of Indiana State Prison with an introduction by Roberto Giammanco. Etheridge Knight (April 19, 1931 – March 10, 1991) was a poet associated with the Black Arts Movement, who served an eight-year-long sentence after his arrest for robbery in 1960. His debut collection of poems was titled Poems from Prison and his follow up, Black Voices From Prison was originally published in Italy under the title: Voci negre dal carcere.

Anthony Horton Papers, 2000-2010 | Sc MG 878

Anthony Horton was an African-American man who for a period of his life was homeless and lived in the tunnels beneath the subway trains. Together with author/artist Youme Landowne, Horton wrote and illustrated "Pitch Black: Don't be Skerd" (2008) which tells the story of how the two met, his background and his life underground. Horton worked with the Theater of Oppressed NYC, frequently playing the role of a police officer in the troupe's performances. He died in a fire that ripped through his underground home. The Anthony Horton Collection consists of a mock-up for the book he and Youme Landowne wrote and illustrated together, "Pitch Black: Don't be Skerd," about Horton's life in the tunnels under the New York City subway system, and letters he wrote to his co-author/friend from 2009-2010. The letters discuss their friendship and his thoughts; most were written while he was an inmate in Downstate Correctional facility in Fishkill, New York. According to Landowne, he was incarcerated because of possession of an antique knife that he wanted to sell. There are additional writings along with original artwork and illustrations.

Book List

Acknowledgements

Thanks to MoMA PS1; American Friends Service Committee’s Prison Watch Program; Center for Transformative Action, Cornell University; Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles; Independent Curators International (ICI); JTT, New York; Justice Arts Coalition; Malin Gallery, New York; Ohio Justice and Policy Center; Prisoner Express; William James Association; Women on the Rise!; and The Fleetwood Family. 

SPECIAL THANKS 

Schomburg Center Director: Joy Bivins

Associate Director of Public Programs & Exhibitions: Novella Ford

Exhibitions Manager: Laura Mogulescu

Archives and Rare Books Division: Barrye Brown

Jean Blackwell Hutson Research and Reference Division: Maira Liriano,  Rhonda Evans

Public Programs Associate Producer: Khalilah Bates 

Deputy Director Operations & External Engagement: Kevin Matthews 

Schomburg Security and Facilities Staff

Exhibition & Graphic Designer: HvA Design

Art Handlers: Nick Mohanna and Sutton Murray

Sound and Tech: Park Blvd.

 

 

 

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