The 51st (Free) State is a project generated at Stateville Prison, where over the last year research and discussions have centered around the idea of a nation of incarcerated people. The prison population in the U.S. is, indeed, the size of some nation states. The struggles, pains, joys, hopes, creativity, intellect, and vision of the 2.2 million people incarcerated in the U.S. also reflect that of other nations of people. The 51st (Free) State is a body of work that includes emblems, songs, choreography, graphic narratives, and stage sets to connect the thousands of people incarcerated across the nation through a spatio-political imaginary. Far from being disposable, this community is one with a certain kind of sovereignty, and constructing a speculative state of freedom is a means to achieve a corporeal state of freedom.  

The works displayed in the windows at Uri Eichen Gallery are a set of nation-state emblems that articulate belonging for The 51st (Free) State. Artists included: Robert Curry, Ike Easley, Darrell Fair, Antoine Ford, Lamaine Jefferson, John Knight, Derrick Parks, Rayon Sampson, Johnny Taylor, Antwan Tyler, and Kevin Walker.

Uri Eichen Gallery (window exhibition)
2101 S Halsted St, Chicago, IL 60608
Dec 11, 2020 -Jan 6, 2021

Image caption: Derrick Parks