Community Events

Saturday, October 14, 2017
Family + Friends Day

4-6pm at Sullivan Galleries, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
33 S. State Sreet, Chicago
Meet faculty and friends of PNAP for food, drink and conversation at an exhibition of artwork developed in Andres Hernandez's spring class at Stateville Prison.

June 23-Sept. 2, 2017
Bold Disobedience

Bold Disobedience is a group exhibition presented in collaboration with Mikva Challenge. PNAP work was selected by a council of twelve student curators, this collection of works demonstrates myriad social issues that matter to youths today. Students developed the exhibition title to suggest that “to obey today is to do nothing, to comply, to float along on the current of the status quo, to let digitally delivered distractions wash over us until we can no longer discern the motivating machinations behind them”. For them, Bold Disobedience is a call to civic action, to speak out against injustices, and to disrupt the systems that so deeply impact lived experiences.
Participating artists include: Thalia Agosto, Natalie Aparicio, Evan Calabrese, Angela Davis Fegan, Maya Halko, Josue Herrera, Zachary Huff, Jaclyn Jacunski, Kuumba Lynx, Yvette Mayorga, Cheryl Pope, Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project, Sarah Ross, Dread Scott, and Raven Smith

May 6 & May 13, 2017:
It's Now: PNAP Annual Event

MAY 6, 11am-4pm

We are calling out for community-spirited individuals to help paint a mural! Food, paints, and drinks will be provided (professional painting experience is not necessary).
To sign up and volunteer, please contact Joe Troutman at!

MAY 13, 12pm-5pm

Join us for a BBQ and celebration of a new mural.

_Damon Locks on the turn tables
_Live Performances
_Mural unveiling
_Art making
_Community Resources
_Food by chef Skyler Dees

Contact Jonathan Kelley at for more information!

Both events are at 3346 W. 16th at Christiana in North Lawndale.
Events are free and open to the public!

September 7, 2016
Exhibition: Mitigating Evidence

We’re super excited to join Free Write Arts and Literacy for an exhibition of art and writing by people who are or were incarcerated in the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center (CCJTDC) and Stateville Correctional Center.

The show opens September 9, 2016, 6:00-10:00pm.

Private viewings by appointment and programmed events through October 4th, 2016.
Chicago Art Department, 1932 South Halsted #100 & #101, Chicago, IL 60608

Mitigating Evidence is a strategy to interrupt the presumptions, stereotypes and fears about people in detention, jail, and prison. Mitigating Evidence is a space in which incarcerated artists are reclaiming their artistry, authorship, and, therefore, their humanity. Mitigating evidence is presented in legal proceedings, either to impact the court’s decision or to alleviate harsh sentencing. Presenting a curated selection of work made by participants of Free Write Arts and Literacy and the Prison Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP), the exhibition will offer community members the opportunity to view a wide range of art and writing, learn about issues of incarceration in Illinois, and respond to the sociopolitical climate that has given rise to the Prison-Industrial Complex.

Author Reginald Dwayne Betts says about this exhibition:

In determining what can be admitted, the judge, relying on the rules of evidence, determines when the story begins. This is the kind of power that alters lives forever, cabining all that matters in a person’s life to the brief time before or after some tragedy occurred, as if their childhood, their future, should not factor into what we imagine as possible, as needed. Mitigating Evidence is the place that subverts this practice.

The exhibition will feature self-portraits, a retrospective of Free Write and PNAP student work, a listening station featuring audio recordings of student compositions, and a multimedia timeline that juxtaposes significant events related to criminalization and prison reform with the power of the personal narrative. In conjunction to the exhibition, the opening will celebrate the publication of Free Write’s seventh anthology of student writing and art.
Mitigating Evidence is the fifth exhibition of Free Write student work hosted by Chicago Art Department and the first collaborative effort between Free Write and PNAP. Since 2000, Free Write has facilitated creative writing workshops, one-on-one literacy tutoring, and arts programming for youth in the CCJTDC. Since 2011, PNAP has facilitated art and humanities classes for men incarcerated in Stateville Prison, located in Crest Hill, Illinois.
Mitigating Evidence opens at Chicago Art Department during the Chicago Arts District 2nd Fridays gallery night.
Curated by Free Write staff members Mathilda de Dios, Elgin-Bokari Smith, Roger Bonair Agard, and Ryan Keesling; PNAP staff members Tess Landon, Damon Locks, Alexandra Antoine, and Sarah Ross; and Chicago Art Department artist and curator Chelsea Ross.

April - July, 2016
Exhibition: Freedom Dreams

Please join PNAP and Social Justice Initiative for an exhibition that makes connections between artists in and outside of prison. Chicago-area artists were commissioned to respond to writing developed by men in PNAP's Freedom Dreams cultural studies class at Stateville Prison. Together, their writings and art works – ranging from print and sculpture to photography and collage – urges the public to reconsider, rethink, and reimagine what freedom means, especially in the context of an ever-growing prison nation.

Co-curated by Alice Kim, Iván Arenas and Sarah Ross. Exhibition support from Alexandra Antoine, Monica Stokes and Irina Zadov. Funding from the Propeller Fund and Social Justice Initiative.

Reception: April 14 5:30-8pm // Pop Up Just Art  729 Maxwell St. Chicago, IL


Tuesday, June 21, 5:30-9pm: Freedom Dreams Collage Workshop with Krista Franklin Limited space. Email to inquire.

Thursday, July 7, 7:00-9pm: Writing through a Wall
Lasana Kazembe, Alice Kim, Kai Parker and Beth Richie will read poetry and letters from writers at Stateville about religion, violence against women and the pressures of confinement.

Thursday, July 14 7:00-9pm: Artist Conversation + Performance
Join Eve Ewing, Sherwin Ovid and Fereshteh Toosi and others for a conversation about creating work responding to the writing of incarcerated artists. Damon Locks will perform a new sound piece.

Gallery hours are by appointment email to make an appointment. Classes are welcome!

Jan 10, 2016
Exhibition: The Weight of Rage

January 10-March 20, 2016 at the Hyde Park Art Center


See more images of the opening here and a review of the show from South Side Weekly here.


Jan 10
Show is open to the public.

Sunday, Jan 16,  3-5pm
Weight of Rage Families and Communities Event
Join Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project (PNAP) for a walk through of the exhibition The Weight of Rage. Families, friends, advocates and allies of incarcerated folks are invited. Lasana Kazembe will read poems from current PNAP poets at Stateville. William Estrada will photograph participants for free as part of the Portraits of Resolution Project--a mobile photo studio documenting the impact incarceration has on the community. And Alderman Walter Burnett and Benny Lee will be there to say a few words! Sponsored by St. Leonard’s Ministries.

Sunday, Feb 14,  2-4pm
This interactive poetry performance, by Just Yell Chicago Team of Poets, responds to work the exhibition. Confronting issues of authorship, production, and keepers of identity, the poets reveal truths withheld and (un)told. This event is hosted in partnership with the Poetry Foundation.

Saturday, Feb 20,  2-3:30pm
Listening and Response Session with 96 Acres
Michael Johnson and Maria Gaspar from the 96 Acres Project hosts a listening and response session of audio stories taken from their archive and based on communities most impacted by the Cook County Jail, the largest single site pre-detention facility in the country. Participate in this collective dialogue and learn through the act of personal storytelling and a more human perspective on incarceration.

Sunday, Feb 21, 3-5pm
All exhibitions open at Hyde Park Art Center.

Wednesday, Feb 24, 6-8pm
In this moment: Liberation and struggle after prison reform
Join Jasson Perez, Black Youth Project 100; Beth Richie, scholar and member of INCITE and the P-NAP teaching collective and Rachel Herzing Storytelling and Organizing Project to dialogue about the limits and possibilities of current prison and policing reform initiatives.

Thursday, March 3, 6-8pm
Double Feature: A Place To Stand + The Insiders
March 3, 6-8pm Join us for double feature of two intriguing films! A Place to Stand (2014) is a film based on Jimmy Santiago Baca’s memoir of the same name, which explores the life and mind of a man who – through the power of poetry – found his place to stand. The Insiders (1970, 16mm film) portrays daily life at a state prison filmed by an incarcerated person at Missouri State Penitentiary for the NBC Educational Enterprises Series. This event is hosted in partnership with the Poetry Foundation. Presented in partnership with the Poetry Foundation.

Wednesday, March , 16
The power of letters
In this creative writing workshop will be open to Village Leadership Academy students! Workshop participants will begin with a walk-through of the “Weight of Rage” exhibition, paying particular attention to open letters crafted by P-NAP students in a “Writing Time and Place” seminar. Students will compose their own open letters in response to the exhibition, and have the opportunity to expand and refine their written work through the workshop process. This workshop will be facilitated by Audrey Petty, writer and member of the P-NAP teaching collective.

March 20: Show closes

September 11-12, 2015
96 Acres: Projections at Cook County Jail

PNAP was invited by 96 ACRES to screen an animation made by Damon Locks, Rob Shaw and 11 artists at Stateville. The works were screened alongside "Letters Home" and projected on the wall of the Cook County Jail over the course of two evenings in Sept. We were excited to be part of this project and got great feedback from passersby and the community of people that came out to see the projects. 96 ACRES is a project organized by artists and educators who host community-engaged, site-responsive projects that involve community stakeholders’ ideas about social and restorative justice issues, and that examine the impact of incarceration at the Cook County Jail.
Learn about this 96 Acres project.

March 23, 2015
Exhibition: The Material That Went to Make Me


March 23-April 3
NEIU Library

The Material That Went to Make Me is an exhibition of work by incarcerated artists and writers in the Prison and Neighborhood Arts Project at Stateville Prison. Visual and literary work on display includes a series of experimental timelines that explore the daily lives and life-times of artists; personal narratives and a collaborative animation. 

Join us for events on the NEIU Campus (5500 St. Louis Ave):

March 23, 1pm:
FA 226
Cultural Production in a U.S. Prison: Artists Damon Locks and Sarah Ross in conversation with Vida Sacic about the vitality and critical lens incarcerated artists bring to cultural production. 

March 31, 3-4pm:
Fine Arts Center 152
Roundtable discussion:
Building Opportunity: Educational access for people inside and after release from prison

April 2, 3-4:30pm:
LWH 3071

Screening and discussing of Girl Trouble a film that looks at compelling personal stories of three teenagers entangled in San Francisco's juvenile justice system. Trying to change their lives, the girls work part-time at the innovative Center for Young Women's Development, an organization run by young women who have faced similar challenges. This event is sponsored by Formerly Incarcerated Standing Together (F.I.S.T.) -- a new student group on the NEIU campus!

Jan. 16, 2015
Exhibition:Art and the Prison State

PNAP was invited to exhibit work at the North Shore Contry Day School. This K-12 school has a robust art program and a gallery. The show will be on view until Feb. 27. A reception will be held on Jan 16 from 4:30pm-7:30pm.

Location: The John Almquist Gallery North Shore Country Day School 310 Green Bay Road Winnetka, IL 60093

Gallery Hours: Monday-Friday, 9-3 or by appointment, 847.446.0674 Weekday gallery visitors are required to check-in at Reception in the Upper School.

Nov. 15, 2014
Exhibition:Annual PNAP exhibiton!


The Material That Went To Make Me
This exhibiton has been extended to DEC 29th! Go by and check it out!:

South Side Community Art Center
3831 South Michigan Ave
Chicago, IL 60653

Nov. 22, 3-5pm In a Different Era: Prison and the Black Arts Movement
In the 1970s, artists in the Black Arts Movement and others taught in Illinois prisons through existing State programs and with the support of outside institutions, such as colleges and museums. Many local artists taught or performed in Illinois State Prisons. Join us for a conversation with some of these artists to discuss the legacies of their work and the implications for our current prison nation.
Panelists include: Phil Cohran, musician and co-founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians and founder of the Affro-Arts Theater; Preston Jackson, sculptor and Faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Masequa Myers, performer, producer and Executive Director of the South Side Community Art Center; Useni Perkins, poet, playwright and author of “Home Is A Dirty Street: The Social Oppression of Black Children”; Nathan Wright, Executive Director of the Etiquette Foundation of Illinois and formerly incarcerated artist.

After the panel, join the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) in concert from 6-8pm.
Performers: NOW Generation.
Admission is $10, youth ages 15 and under are Free!
Purchase tickets online through:
Performers are NOW Generation
Dec. 6, 3-5pm: First Annual Alternative State of the Illinois Department of Corrections Report: 2014 ¡Presente!

A constellation of organizations across the city and state are working to change the conditions of incarceration and re-imagine the justice system altogether.
Their work seeks to end mass criminalization, develop alternatives to policing and incarceration and create communities we know we need. Join us for an engaging performance by Chicago poets who will bring this work to life

For more information go to:

July 10, 2014
Exhibition: TO SHOOT A KITE

CUE Foundation
137 West 25th St. New York, NY

Over the past two decades, the US prison population has increased by 700%, despite the fact that our total population has grown only 20%, and our crime rate has decreased. With over two million incarcerated people, we lock away more individuals per capita than any other country that publishes these statistics. To Shoot a Kite, curated by Yaelle Amir, presents the US penal system from the vantage point of artists, scholars, organizers, and the prisoners themselves, who all seek creative solutions to elucidate and alleviate this broken system.

* This exhibition will be up until Aug. 2 and will include posters, an animation and an audio track created this year in the art class.

May 24, 2014 Exhibition: PROPELLER FUND

Mana Contemporary
2233 S. Throop St. Chicago, IL

In 2012, PNAP was awarded a generous Propeller Fund grant. An exhibition of work from grantees will be held featuring work made during the residency. Artwork and writing that was featured in our fall 2013 exhibition will be on display!

*This exhibition will be up through mid-August.

May 1, 2014

Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
800 S. Halsted St. Chicago, IL

Join us for the opening of the museum’s newest exhibit, Unfinished Business: The Right to Play, which explores the history of the social movements that created the first playgrounds, fought for an eight-hour work day, and suggested that time off from work could create a more just world. On May 1, the museum and courtyard will be bustling with activity: field games, food trucks, DJs, live music, and performances by the Jesse White Tumbling Team and other youth ensembles. Rain or shine, we invite visitors to exercise their right to play!

** This exhibition will be up for the year and will include a fantastic animation and book of timelines created in a year-long art class focused on ideas of time.


April 8, 2014
Film Screening and Discussion

Join PNAP and Northeastern Illinois students, faculty and alum to watch a groundbreaking documentary "A Hard Straight" by Goro Toshima and Lindsay Sablosky.

The documentary focuses on challenges and sturggles post - incarceration. A panel discussion on educational access for people during and after prison and reentry will follow. Come to learn about PNAP, the newsletter Stateville Speaks, and local movements for educational access.

A panel will be moderated by Frank Gaytan, Social Work and Director, ENLACE Leadership Institute

Participants include: 
Ashor Jajou, FORCE & NEIU 
Benny Lee, Justice Studies, NEIU 
Mark Mitchell, Chicago State University
Vanessa Koonce, Harold Washington College 

This event is free and open to the public. Join us :

April 8, 2014 at 7-9pm
Northeastern Illinois University 
5500 N. St. Louis Ave
Golden Eagles Room (SU 103)

This event is sponsored by the College of Education with the Justice Studies Department, the Angelina Pedroso Center for Diversity and Intercultural Affairs, Women's and Gender Studies, Latino and Latin American Studies, and African and African American Studies.

Nov. 10, 2013
Film Screening

Join us at 3pm at the Jane Addams Hull-House for a screening of "Natural Life" a film by Tirtza Even.

Following the film Tirtza Even, Mariame Kaba, Shobha Mahdev and Jill Petty will be in conversation about current issues around juveniles serving life without parole.

natural life

Nov. 16, 2013
Roundtable Discussion

Join us at 3pm at the Jane Addams Hull-House for a roundtable discussion on social movements and incarceration. How does incarceration effect the right to housing, health care , family autonomy and justice for immigrants? Panelists Evan Lyon, Dept. of Medicine faculty, University of Chicago; Chicago Anti-Eviction Campaign; Moratorium on Deportations; Charity Toliver, Black Thought, Black Action; Benny Lee, National Alliance for the Empowerment of Formerly Incarcerated People and Erica Meiners will discuss these important intersections.

A workshop will follow in which participants will be asked to imagine budgetary reallocations for the state's nearly $1.3 billion Department of Corrections 2013 budget. This exercise is based on workshops by Californias United for a Responsible Budget.