Walls Turned Sideways is an art and community space dedicated to people impacted by incarceration, with a focus on collective liberation, healing, and abolition. 

Walls Turned Sideways is an outgrowth of teaching and learning with incarcerated artists and writers at Stateville prison through the Prison + Neighborhood Art/Education Project. We seek to more deeply engage the wider community of people impacted by incarceration: the family, friends, and loved ones of people who are currently incarcerated. 

We aim to hold space for three kinds of programming: 

Art, writing and performance created at Stateville prison and by artists in the city will anchor our exhibitions while teaching artists and writers will host workshops in the space. 

Political education workshops will focus on current organizing by and families of incarcerated people such as clemency workshops, legislative issues and more. 

Community care includes hosting transformative justice circles, drop in hours and working with healing practitioners to support families, kids and formerly incarcerated people. 

This work is led by formerly incarcerated leaders and artists. WTS aims to be a connective tissue between inside and outside communities that centers art, exhibitions, workshops and events. 

A Full report on Walls Turned Sideways can be found at the link here.

Upcoming Programming at Walls Turned Sideways

To Cut a Barber’s Hands – a play by Anthony Spaulding

Saturday, April 20, 6PM – 8PM

Join us for a live performance of his one-man play by Anthony Spaulding. Anthony Spaulding was raised in Chicago’s Roseland neighborhood, “The Wild 100’s.” As a kid, Anthony was a great athlete and excelled in school as a straight-A student and valedictorian. Although he was book smart, he fell to the elements of the streets eventually being lured into gangs resulting in being charged and convicted with a felony at age 16. Anthony spent the next 27 years in prison, where he was transformed through spiritual awakening and education. While in prison he developed his abilities and skills in the arts and as a barber.

Today, Anthony is a creative force, writing 3 books and a one-man play about his life and journey. He is also an accomplished musician, poet, community advocate and a talented licensed barber. Anthony has performed at the Goodman Theater, Rooted in Roger’s Park the Chicago Park District, and San Lucas Church in Humboldt Park. Ultimately his goal is to make his story into a film and share it with a larger audience in an attempt to reach youth at risk.

Just Housing Amendment Training (in-person)

Wednesday, April 17, 4:30pm – 6:30pm

Join us for a free virtual and in-person training on the Just Housing Amendment, hosted by Uptown People’s Law Center and Prison + Neighborhood Arts / Education Project. The Just Housing Amendment is a Cook County ordinance that went into effect early 2020 which aims to prevent landlords from discriminating against persons with criminal backgrounds, but instead ensures that people with records have equal access to housing opportunities in Cook County. Providing housing opportunities for people with records are key to reducing recidivism and helping to build stronger, safer communities. 

During this event we will be discussing what this law does, who it benefits, the application process, and the protections that it provides to applicants applying for housing. There will also be an opportunity to make a free appointment with a lawyer to discuss individual housing discrimination cases. 

NOTE: VIRTUAL EVENT IS APRIL 12 5:30-7:30 VIA ZOOM | bit.ly/JustTraining412

Temporary Monuments Book Release – A conversation with Rebecca Zurich and Mechtild Wildrich

Saturday, March 30, 2024 | 4pm – 6pm

Author Rebecca Zorach will be in conversation with Mechtild Widrich, author of Monumental Cares: Sites of History and Contemporary Art, with time for Q&A and socializing. Both books will be available for purchase and signing. Half of the purchase price of each $30 copy of Temporary Monuments will be donated to PNAP.

Snacks and drinks provided.

National Women’s Month Celebration

Saturday, March 23, 2024 | 5pm – 8pm

Join us to celebrate National Women’s Month with spoken word, djembe drumming and speakers. Build to Heal will be honoring Hermene Hartman, founder of Indigo Magazine; Dawn C. Ewing and Jewell Ewing, defense attorneys who work to advocate for people in the criminal legal system.

Snacks and drinks provided.

Black History Month: Collective Liberation Celebration

Saturday, February 24, 2024 | 6pm – 8pm

Join us for an evening of celebrating the struggle for collective liberation with poetry readings from Orion Meadows, Val Shaker, and DrxQuinnx. We will also have a special performance of “America Living in Vain” by Onye Davenport with supporting cast: Curtis Nugin Sr., Antonio Cortez, and Dam Dave.

Food and drinks provided.

Progressive Traumatic Prison Stress Syndrome (workshop & discussion)

Thursday, February 22, 2024 | 6pm – 8pm

Join us for a conversation with Raylan Gilford for a workshop on Progressive-Traumatic Prison Stress Syndrome (PTPSS). PTPSS is a term coined by Gilford to explain the subtle and deep traumatic ways in which incarceration adversely affects an individual’s mind, body and spirit. The program will inform the people directly impacted by incarceration–those who have suffered a carceral experience and their loved ones– about the traumas they suffered during their incarceration and what that looks like in our interpersonal relationships upon release. 15 Participants will receive a copy of Gilford’s book. The book will be shared with participants and explained so that participants can continue the conversation on their own.

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Join us for the exhibition It Ain’t That Funny: Comics by Arkee Chaney and artists at Stateville Prison – Walls Turned Sideways Grand Opening.

Saturday, January 27th
6pm – 9pm (program begins at 7pm)
Walls Turned Sideways
2717 W. Madison St. 
Chicago, IL 60612

Check out the event on Facebook.

Contemporary comic artists have used the art form to bring attention to everything from unjust laws, gender politics, corrupt politicians and, of course, the prison industrial complex. The work in It Ain’t That Funny visualizes the impacts of these incarceration, made by people directly impacted by incarceration. Artists focus on the way policing unequally impacts Black and Brown neighborhoods; how families and communities bear the costs of incarceration; and they frame the repetition of violence that incarceration creates. Through the medium of the comic strip, these artists work in the radical tradition of comic art to interrogate the most critical issues of our time. 

It Ain’t That Funny largely features the work of Arkee Chaney who spent 31 years behind bars. Dr. Burroughs—founder of the DuSable Museum—taught in state prisons for decades and helped cultivate Chaney’s practice. His comics were often featured in “Stateville Speaks”—a prison newsletter that is produced for and by people incarcerated in IL. 

In addition, a display of comics created by artists taught by Damon Locks will also be on display. Like Chaney, these artists are keen critics of the justice system and use life experiences as the basis of their work, but unlike Chaney, these artists are all still locked up. In both cases the use story and image speak frankly about the conditions of punishment and incarceration, which are often obfuscated from the public. 

Exhibiting Artists & PNAP Students
Carlos Ayala
Robert Curry
Antwan Tyler
Devon Terrell
Juan Luna

For the health and safety of students, staff, and community, PNAP follows the COVID guidelines below: 

– Masks required. 
– Do not attend if you have had a recent potential exposure to COVID-19 and have not passed the waiting period (5-7 days) for COVID-19 to show up on a test.
– Do not attend if you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.
– If you tested positive 7 days or less after going inside please contact us.