Illinois Humanities is proud to announce the second round of #EnvisioningJustice Community Grants. 


The Envisioning Justice grants guidelines are based on the belief that:

  • Arts and humanities and civic dialogue programs play a pivotal role within the criminal justice system.
  • Strategic, creative storytelling can help us to re-examine issues, policies and practices in fresh ways.
  • Well-moderated, interactive community dialogue is a critical component of community building.

There are many issues that we hope to address with grantee partners over 2018-2019, but some of the underlying questions are:

  • What are some of the most critical facts, narratives and perspectives involving mass incarceration that are left out of most media coverage and public dialogue? What are creative and effective ways of presenting them to audiences in order to stimulate reflection?
  • What are some of the ways the arts, the humanities, and civic dialogue help increase people’s interest in and concern around mass incarceration? To what degree can they help increase people’s willingness to pay more attention to these issues and even to take action (‘like’ and share stories, volunteer, express views, donate, vote, etc) based on this concern?
  • What are effective ways that arts and policy groups can collaborate around shared beliefs? How can such collaborations augment the impact of each?
  • How can we increase the number of stakeholders who value work happening at the community level to improve quality of life and public safety? Can we help increase the number of stakeholders who view creative tools such as the arts as important in amplifying the voices of those most affected, in framing the issues, and in imagining solutions?

The grants categories are:

Artist Commissions

Illinois Humanities is commissioning seven Cook County-based artists to create new work for the Envisioning Justice culminating exhibition, which will be hosted at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Sullivan Galleries in the later Summer and early Fall of 2019.

The exhibition will examine how over-incarceration affects Chicago communities and offer solutions to this crisis, while highlighting the concerns being addressed at the Community Hubs and honoring their work. Commissioned works will be informed by issues addressed by the Hubs or done in collaboration with them. Selections will be made by an independent jury of artists, activists and curators.

Commissioned artists will attend, support, and/or teach programs at the Hub with which they are paired during that Hub’s October-December 2018 sessions as a means of informing their final artwork/project. Through close collaboration with community members, activists, researchers and scholars, and other professionals working with or at the Hubs, selected artists will have the opportunity to support and participate in programs that imagine solutions to the problem of over-incarceration, specifically on imagining alternatives to the current criminal justice system in Chicagoland and beyond.As a result of these relationships and engagements, it is intended that selected artists will return to their studio work informed by community-level activism and wide-ranging community perspectives on these issues.

Following the conclusion of the third session of Envisioning Justice activity at the Community Hubs, artists will have from January 2019 – June 2019 to create their work, receiving regular studio visits from Envisioning Justice exhibition curators Alexandria Eregbu and Danny Orendorff, as well as other Illinois Humanities staff and affiliated stakeholders in the initiative.