Browse the exhibition
The Tea Project
Artist: Amber Ginsburg
Artist: Aaron Hughes
The Remaking the Exceptional podcast examines local and international implications of state violence, while also uplifting acts of creative resistance.View Installation
Circle of Roses
Artist: Naimah Thomas
A professional art therapist, Naimah Thomas created this breathtaking artist book as a response to a loved one's incarceration and the powerful stories of those she worked with in a healing group.View Installation
Narrating the Struggle for Justice for Police Torture Survivors
Artist: Chicago Torture Justice Memorials
Through a multimedia exploration of the history of police torture under Police Commander Jon Burge's reign of terror, artist and activist collective Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) identifies 15 sites of police torture across the city of Chicago and connects them with oral testimony from survivors.View Installation
Artist: Mitchell S. Jackson
Mitchell S. Jackson's short story "By Blood" deftly navigates the complex dynamics of power and gender embedded in sex work, with particular focus on those who stand to profit most from it.View Installation
There but for the Grace
Artist: Michael Fischer
This nonfiction piece critiques American culture's tendency to "force a confession" from returning citizens by repeatedly asking, "Why were you in prison?"View Installation
Artist: Tara Betts
Artist: David Weathersby
Unbarred Poetics is a collaboration between poet Tara Betts and filmmaker David Weathersby that features the work of four Chicago-based poets: Betts, Khari Bowden, Ciara Miller, and Devon Terrell.View Installation
truth, facts, reality | stories, claims, lies
Artist: Maya Dukmasova
truth, facts, reality | stories, claims, lies is a narrative nonfiction story about two murders that happened in the summer of 1984 and the man who claims to have been wrongfully convicted of them.View Installation
Artist: Renaldo Hudson
Chasing Hearts is a five-part video series of conversations between Renaldo Hudson, Director of Education at the Illinois Prison Project, and others around Illinois and nationwide who are committed to the struggle for justice in Illinois.View Installation
Recipes for Life: A Legacy Cookbook
Artist: Janice Bond
Artist: Sonja Henderson
Through time-honored family recipes and written reflections, this cookbook from the Mothers Healing Circle commemorates those who have been lost to violence and those who remain alive to bear witness.View Installation
PUPPETS + RESISTENCIA
Artist: Jasmin Cardenas
Artist: William Estrada
In a two-part puppet play, "Tú Eres mi Otro Yo," Estrada and Cardenas examine the ripple effects of harm on a family and within a community.View Installation
Get to know the creators behind the RE:ACTION Exhibition
In 2021, Illinois Humanities commissioned 14 new humanities- and arts-based projects by artists and humanists from across the state who grapple with issues related to mass incarceration in their work. Get to know our commissioned artists and humanists, and view their exhibition installations above.
Alexandra Antoine collaborated with Brandon Wyatt on Our Agreements. She is an interdisciplinary artist based in Chicago, Illinois.
Dr. Tara Betts collaborated with David Weathersby on Unbarred Poetics. She is the author of the poetry collections Break the Habit, Arc & Hue, and the forthcoming Refuse to Disappear.
Janice Bond collaborated with Sonja Henderson on the Mothers Healing Circle project. She is a photographer and visual artist based in both Houston, Texas and Chicago, Illinois.
Antonio L. Burton, also known as “Toni Picasso,” is a native of Decatur, Illinois. His faith in Jesus Christ has fueled his fluent gift in all arts, mediums, and skills.
Jasmin Cardenas collaborated with William Estrada on the PUPPETS + RESISTENCIA project. She is a Chicago actress, director, published storyteller, deviser and arts activist who uses the mediums of story and theater to move human hearts towards compassion and action.
Maya Dukmasova is a senior reporter at Injustice Watch. Her work is focused on housing, the courts, policing, local government and social justice movements.
William Estrada collaborated with Jasmin Cardenas on the PUPPETS + RESISTENCIA project. He is an arts educator and multidisciplinary artist. His art and teaching are a collaborative discourse that critically re-examines public and private spaces with people to engage in radical imagination.
Michael Fischer helps edit a bimonthly magazine distributed to federal prisons and is a faculty member of the Odyssey Project at Illinois Humanities, a free college credit program for income-eligible adults. He is a Luminarts Cultural Foundation fellow, Illinois Arts Council grantee, and finalist for the PEN America Writing for Justice Fellowship.
Amber Ginsburg has collaborated with Aaron Hughes on the Tea Project since 2009. She is a Chicago-based artist teaching at the University of Chicago.
Sonja Henderson collaborated with Janice Bond on the Mothers Healing Circle project. She received her B.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she concentrated in painting and drawing; and received her M.F.A. from the University of California at Berkeley, where she concentrated in sculpture and installation.
Renaldo Hudson is an educator and a community organizer with the Illinois Prison Project, and has focused his work on ending perpetual punishment in Illinois.
Aaron Hughes has collaborated with Amber Ginsburg on the Tea Project since 2009. He is a Chicago-based artist, curator, organizer, teacher, anti-war activist, and Iraq War veteran.
Joshua Jackson is an independent documentary producer and cinematographer. He started his career working at PBS and ABC affiliates.
Mitchell S. Jackson
Mitchell S. Jackson’s debut novel The Residue Years received wide critical praise. Jackson is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, a Whiting Award, and the Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence.
Patricia Nguyen is an artist, educator, and scholar born and raised in Chicago. She is an Assistant Professor in Asian American Studies and the Council for Race and Ethnic Studies at Northwestern University, where she received her Ph.D. in Performance Studies.
Naimah Thomas is a Black femme born and raised in Chicago who currently works as a licensed professional counselor, art therapist, and artist. Her clinical work and art practice often explore the intersections of art and mental health, primarily in BIPOC communities.
David Weathersby collaborated with Tara Betts on Unbarred Poetics. He is a filmmaker and founder of City Vanguard, an arts organization that produces community-based documentaries for educational and cultural institutions.
Chicago Torture Justice Memorials
Chicago Torture Justice Memorials (CTJM) aims to honor and to seek justice for the survivors of Chicago police torture, their family members, and the African American communities affected by the torture. CTJM is a cultural collective founded in 2011 that has fused art, activism, and radical popular education with a tenacious commitment to antiracist politics.
Brandon V. Wyatt collaborated with Alexandra Antoine on Our Agreements. He is a "Universal Truth Seeker" who welcomes any involvement and indulges in progressive, productive, and peaceful affairs and developments.