Freedom Center exhibition showcases work of incarcerated artists to inspire systemic change

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MEDIA CONTACT: Cody Hefner (513) 608-5777,

Freedom Center exhibition showcases work of incarcerated artists to inspire systemic change

Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration opens April 22

CINCINNATI — The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center is presenting the stark reality of America’s prison system in emotional detail. The upcoming exhibition Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration features a collection of contemporary visual art by more than 30 artists, including artists who have been incarcerated and by those who have not but whose work is concerned with state repression, erasure and imprisonment. Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration opens April 22 at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Marking Time features works that bear witness to artists’ experimentation with and reimagining of the fundamentals of living under punitive governance. The artists push the possibilities of the basic features of the daily experience in the prison system to create new visions of justice and healing. The resulting work is often laborious, time-consuming and immersive as incarcerated artists manage penal time through their work and experiment with the material constraints that shape artmaking in prison.

The exhibition also includes work by nonincarcerated artists, both those who were formerly incarcerated and those personally impacted by the US prison system. From various sites of the carceral state, these artists devise strategies for visualizing and making physically present the impact and scale of life under mass surveillance, criminalization and imprisonment for targeted populations. Together, the artwork underscores how prisons and the prison industrial complex have shaped contemporary life.

“Art has incredible power, both for the viewer and the creator,” said Katie Bramell, director of museum experiences at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. “Marking Time gives a voice to those who have had their lives and humanity marginalized by the prison system, and it gives much-needed perspective to those who may be unaware of how destructive that system can be. We’re excited to present Dr. Fleetwood’s and these artists’ work so we can move people to change.”

Marking Time features work by over 30 artists, including Ohio-based artists Dean Gillispie and Aimee Wissman. Additional artists include Cedar Annenkova, American Artist, Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter, Sara Bennett, Conor Broderick, Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick, Daniel McCarthy Clifford, Tameca Cole, Larry Cook, Russell Craig, Halim Flowers, Maria Gaspar, Ronnie Goodman, Gary Harrell, James “Yaya” Hough, Ashley Hunt, Jesse Krimes, Susan Lee-Chun, William B. Livingston III, Mark Loughney, Ojore Lutalo, George Anthony Morton, Jesse Osmun, Jared Owens, Rowan Renee, Gilberto Rivera, Billy Sell, James Sepesi, Sable Elyse Smith, Todd (Hyung-Rae) Tarselli and Jerome Washington.

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

The exhibition is organized by Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood, James Weldon Johnson Professor of Media, Culture and Communications at NYU, and reflects her decade-long commitment to the research of and programming on the visual art and culture of mass incarceration. The exhibition follows the release of Dr. Fleetwood’s award-winning book, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (Harvard University Press, 2020), recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. The exhibition debuted at MoMA PS1 in September 2020.

Support for the Freedom Center’s run of Marking Time comes from The Procter & Gamble Company. Major support for the exhibition is provided by the Art for Justice Fund, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors and NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education and Human Development. Special thanks to MoMA PS1; Independent Curators InternationalCommonwealth and Council, Los Angeles; WORTHLESSSTUDIOSJTT, New York; and Malin Gallery, New York.

Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration opens April 22 in the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center’s Skirball Gallery. The exhibition is included with Freedom Center admission and on Fifth Third Community Days. Visit to learn more.


About the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 on the banks of the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio. Since then, more than 1.3 million people have visited its permanent and changing exhibits and public programs, inspiring everyone to take courageous steps for freedom. Two million people have utilized educational resources online at, working to connect the lessons of the Underground Railroad to inform and inspire today’s global and local fight for freedom. Partnerships include Historians Against Slavery, Polaris Project, Free the Slaves, US Department of State and International Justice Mission. In 2014, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center launched a new online resource in the fight against modern slavery,

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