PNAP views access to art and education for incarcerated folks as a means to create networks that challenge boundaries between inside and outside. Community events create spaces to hold critical conversations about the prison industrial complex, criminalization, and access to art and education; the thoughts and expressions of incarcerated people are centered through sharing their written and spoken words and artwork. Events including musical performances, workshops, readings, and conversations are always free and are hosted in neighborhoods across the city. View current and upcoming events here. Additional event photos can be found on our Flickr.

In addition to community events held across Chicago, PNAP hosts community celebrations and programs inside Stateville Prison. Guest lectures bring artists, activists, and experts into the prison to share their work and be in conversation with PNAP students. From March to May 2015, a series of films curated by Amir George, Josh Rios, Anthony Romero, and Michael Phillips screened on “inmate tv,” a television channel that operates exclusively inside the prison. End-of-semester ceremonies hosted between 2012 and 2019 featured guest speakers, performances, and readings from students. PNAP’s first UWW graduation ceremony in May 2019 featured remarks by Angela Davis, Emerita Professor at the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Juliana Stratton, Lieutenant Governor of Illinois, as well as a musical performance by Chance the Rapper.

Since February 2021, Pablo Mendoza and Sarah Ross have worked towards creating PNAP’s own community space known as Walls Turned Sideways. Walls Turned Sideways is an art gallery and community space dedicated to artists and communities impacted by incarceration. Through exhibitions, political education workshops, and a community care component, Walls Turned Sideways will offer a space to experience and create art, share resources, and build solidarity with families of incarcerated people. View the report detailing the current efforts towards making this space a reality here.



Online Fundraiser
August 29 – September 30
A GOLD WE ALL NEED was an online fundraiser held in place of an in-person event in 2020. The sale included artwork, books, PNAP t-shirts, and more with 100% of proceeds going to benefit PNAP’s work. Items were generously donated by PNAP friends and faculty, including: Tara Betts, Eve Ewing, Marc Fischer, Maria Gaspar, Ryan Griffis, Aaron Hughes, Johari Jabir, Jason LaFountain, Nicolas Lampert, Damon Locks, Josh MacPhee, Nicole Marroquin, Erica Meiners, Martina Nerhling, Carol Novak, Matthew Nicholas, Mary Patten, Claire Pentecost, Josh Rios, Edra Soto, Desmond Taylor, Mary Tremonte, Gabe Villa, Martine Whitehead, and Bec Young.

Picturing “The Long Term”
The Block Museum, Northwestern University (virtual event)
September 24
This event highlighted PNAP’s The Long Term project (2016-18) and included a screening and discussion with PNAP members Damon Locks, visual artist and co-director of art and exhibitions for PNAP; Sarah Ross, visual artist and co-director of art and exhibitions for PNAP; Eric Blackmon, paralegal at Christian Lawndale Legal Center, educator-in-residence at the University of Chicago’s Human Rights Lab, and former PNAP student; Audrey Petty, director of the Odyssey Project at Illinois Humanities, and a PNAP instructor; Jill Petty, Communications Officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and a co-director of Community Building at PNAP; and Miriam Petty, Associate Professor of Radio/Television/Film, Northwestern University, and a PNAP instructor. Co-presented with the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities at Northwestern University.

From Attica to Abolition
P.O. Box Collective
September 15
Artwork from PNAP students and faculty formed part of a collection of images curated to mark the legacy of the Attica prison uprising 49 years ago, and the contemporary movement to #FreeThemAll.

The Long Term Screening
Pivot Arts Festival 2020
June 14
The animated film The Long Term was screened as part of the virtual Pivot Arts Festival 2020. The screening was followed by a discussion with PNAP art and exhibitions co-directors Damon Locks and Sarah Ross; Eric Blackmon, Paralegal at MacArthur Justice Center and Community Educator-in-Residence, Pozen Family Center for Human Rights; Sarah Grady, a civil rights attorney of Loevy & Loevy; and moderated by Jane Beachy, Artistic Director, Illinois Humanities.


The Long Term Exhibition
O’Connor Art Gallery, Dominican University
September 4 – December 20
Programming included opening and closing receptions; a reading and workshop with PNAP faculty member, Tara Betts; a screening and discussion of the documentary Stateville Calling; and a performance of Notes on Territory with PNAP faculty Martine Whitehead and Damon Locks. 

Envisioning Justice Exhibition
Sullivan Galleries, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
August 6 – October 12
This exhibition shared the work of Chicago artists and communities, including PNAP, as they visualize, actualize, and reimagine strategies, policies, and approaches in the service of a society that is just for all. Presented by Illinois Humanities. 

The Long Term Exhibition
Compound Yellow
April 6 – May 12
Programming included a screening and discussion of the documentary The Sentence with the director Rudy Valdez; a poetry workshop with PNAP faculty member Tara Betts; and an art-making workshop and teach-in focused on decarceration organized by SAIC’s Art in Community class and co-sponsored by Chicago Books to Women in Prison.

Conditional Citizenship Exhibition
Uri Eichen Gallery
February 8  
This exhibition featured art from workshops taught by artists William Estrada and Aaron Hughes, exploring ideas of the outsider, the citizen, the immigrant, and the Other.

The Long Term Exhibition
Art on 51st. (Precious Blood Ministries)
February 9 – 28
Programming included a screening of the documentary Stateville Calling co-hosted by Scrappers Film Group; a discussion about the Juvenile Justice Parole Bill; and a conversation with formerly incarcerated folks about long-term sentencing co-sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and Black & Pink.


The Long Term Exhibition 
Washington Park Arts Incubator
September 21 – December 5 
Programming included Notes on Territory transdisciplinary performance lecture and installation with Anna Martine Whitehead and Damon Locks; The Long Term anthology book release and panel discussion; and a teach-in on reversing long-term sentencing.

The Long Term Book Tour Events
Between November and April, readings and discussions around the publication of The Long Term: Resisting Life Sentences, Working Toward Freedom (Haymarket Books) were held at Women & Children First, Experimental Station (in partnership with Invisible Institute), Housing Works Bookstore Cafe (New York, NY), and Northwestern University, featuring Tara Betts, Deana Lewis, Erica Meiners, Maya Schenwar, Krista Franklin, Alice Kim, Audrey Petty, David Stovall, Kathy Boudin, Mariame Kaba, Victoria Law, Janos Marton, Sarah Ross, William Estrada, Patrick Pursley, and others. 

It’s Now Washington Park Community Celebration
Washington Park Fieldhouse
July 26
Readings and celebration of the installation of a new community mural on the Washington Park Fieldhouse. Sponsored by Night Out in the Parks. 

The Long Term Print Release Party
In These Times
May 26
Release party for The Long Term print portfolio, with readings from The Long Term: Resisting Life Sentences, Working Toward Freedom (Haymarket Books). Project support from Dominican University. 

Building the Prison to School Pipeline Conversation
In These Times
April 13
A conversation with Danny Murillo, Co-Founder, Underground Scholars, with a welcome from Monica Cosby, Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration. Presented with the Education for Liberation Network, Gender and Women’s Studies at University of Illinois Chicago, Master of Arts in Community and Teacher Leaders at Northeastern Illinois University, Moms United Against Violence and Incarceration, Sister Jean Adult High School, and the Chicago Torture Justice Center.


Women Behind Bars Discussion
Pop Up Just Art
November 13
Discussion of the injustices faced by women behind bars with journalist and author Victoria Law, in conversation with Maya Schenwar. Co-sponsored by the UIC Social Justice Initiative, UIC Gender and Women’s Studies, UIC Institute for Research on Race, and the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project.

Family + Friends Day
Sullivan Galleries, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
October 14
Faculty and friends of PNAP were invited for food, drink, and conversation at an exhibition of artwork developed in Andres Hernandez’s spring class at Stateville Prison.

Bold Disobedience Exhibition
Weinberg/Newton Gallery
June 23 – September 2
A group exhibition featuring work from PNAP artists, presented in collaboration with Mikva Challenge and curated by a council of twelve student curators.

It’s Now Lawndale Community Celebration
May 6 and 13
A BBQ and celebration of a public mural painted by members of the North Lawndale community and designed by students at Stateville. Featuring music, performances, and art-making. 


Mitigating Evidence Exhibition 
Chicago Art Department
September 7 – October 4
This exhibition, curated by PNAP members in collaboration with Free Write for Art & Literacy, featured self-portraits, a retrospective of Free Write and PNAP student work, a listening station with audio recordings of student compositions, and a multimedia timeline.

Freedom Dreams Exhibition
Pop Up Just Art
April 14 – July 14
For this exhibition, Chicago-area artists were commissioned to respond to writing developed by students in PNAP’s Freedom Dreams cultural studies class at Stateville. Programming included a collage workshop with Krista Franklin; a poetry reading with PNAP faculty; and an artist conversation and performance with Eve Ewing, Sherwin Ovid, Fereshteh Toosi, and Damon Locks. Presented with the Social Justice Initiative at the University of Illinois Chicago, with funding from the Propeller Fund. 

The Weight of Rage Exhibition 
Hyde Park Art Center
January 10 – March 20
PNAP annual exhibition of artworks and writing produced in classes at Stateville. Programming included a walkthrough of the exhibit for families, friends, advocates, and allies of incarcerated folks; an interactive poetry performance hosted in partnership with the Poetry Foundation; a listening and response session of archived audio stories with 96 Acres; a panel discussion around the limits and possibilities of current prison and policing reforms; a screening of the films A Place To Stand and The Insiders, presented in partnership with the Poetry Foundation; and a letter writing workshop for students. 


96 Acres Projections
Cook County Jail
September 11 and 12
PNAP was invited by 96 Acres to screen an animation created by Damon Locks, Rob Shaw, and 11 artists at Stateville on the exterior wall of Cook County Jail.

The Material That Went to Make Me Exhibition 
Northeastern Illinois University Library
March 23 – April 3
NEIU Library
Programming included a discussion of cultural production inside a prison; a roundtable discussion on educational access for people inside and after release from prison; and a screening and discussion of the film Girl Trouble.

Art and the Prison State Exhibition
The John Almquist Gallery at North Shore Country Day School 
January 16 – February 27
An exhibition of artwork from PNAP artists at Stateville.


The Material That Went To Make Me Exhibition
South Side Community Art Center
November 15 – December 29
Programming included a conversation about prison and the Black Arts movement with a panel of artists, as well as a presentation of the First Annual Alternative State of the Illinois Department of Corrections Report. 

To Shoot a Kite Exhibition 
CUE Foundation (New York, NY)
July 10 – August 2
This exhibition, curated by Yaelle Amir, presented the US penal system from the vantage point of artists, scholars, organizers, and prisoners themselves, including posters, an animation, and an audio track created in PNAP classes. 

Propeller Fund Exhibition
Mana Contemporary
May 24 – July 15
An exhibition of work by Propeller Fund grantees, featuring art made during the residency. 

Unfinished Business: The Right to Play Exhibition
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
May 1, 2014 – May 1, 2015
This exhibit explored 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. 

A Hard Straight Film Screening and Discussion
April 8
Northeastern Illinois University 
Screening followed by a panel discussion 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.


Natural Life Film Screening and Discussion
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
November 10
A screening of the film Natural Life by Tirtza Even, followed by a discussion with Mariame Kaba, Shobha Mahdev, and Jill Petty about current issues around juveniles serving life without parole.

Roundtable Discussion and Workshop
Jane Addams Hull-House Museum
November 16
A discussion of social movements and incarceration, followed by a workshop in which participants were asked to imagine budgetary reallocations for the state’s nearly $1.3 billion Department of Corrections 2013 budget, based on workshops by Californians United for a Responsible Budget.