Reckless Law, Shameless Order: An Intimate Experience of Incarceration

Nasrin Navab- Evin Ward 4 - 1989.png

Scene of faceless women sitting in confined spaces. They are crowded together sitting on the floor, with body language that makes them seem defeated and fatigued.
Nasrin Navab, Evin Ward 4, 1989. Oil on canvas. Courtesy of the artist. © Nasrin Navab

Kenneth Norton -digital art - 2021.png

3 images of a young black man's face with eyes closed are in profile against walls and prison bars. Overlaying each are a young man in an alley wearing a hoodie, a young woman in white, and sunlit trees, seeming to show the man's dreams/thoughts.
Kenneth Norton, Reflection, 2021. Digital art. Courtesy of the artist. © Kenneth Norton

Vincent Robinson - Objects Brush - 2021.jpg

a brush and mirror are pictured against a yellow field, representing objects denied when in prison
Vincent Robinson, Objects, Brush, 2021. Mixed Media. Courtesy of the artist. © Vincent Robinson

Lauren Stumblingbear - Objects -Pad - 2021.jpg

the words "taken for granted taken to punish" are painted in black above and below a painted shape of a women's sanitary pad with wings. Red paint covers the area to the left and right of the pad.
Lauren Stumblingbear, Objects, Pad, 2021. Courtesy of the artist. © Lauren Stumblingbear

Imran Mohammad - Manus Island Austria - 2016.jpg

photograph ofpeople standing outside in the pouring rain. Some have raincoats and umbrellas; the ground is muddy, and the scene is viewed through layers of dense fencing three times as tall as a man
Imran Mohammad, Manus Island Australia, 2016. Courtesy of the artist. © Imran Mohammad

Vincent Robinson - Tomb - 2021.jpg

walls close around a person seated on a bed. They are solitary, alone, but smiling as they listen to music and hold a paper and paintbrush. There is a small window and slot in the door. It is a prison cell.
Vincent Robinson, Tomb, 2021. Pencil drawing on paper. Courtesy of the artist. © Vincent Robinson


On view
Feb 11, 2022 to Apr 2, 2022
Lower Level, Hood Classroom

Around the world, millions of people are held in prisons, jails, detention centers, camps, and other sites of confinement. In fact, thousands of carceral spaces permeate contemporary life. The economics, spatial planning, and logic of punishment shape our everyday lives, even if we have not had direct experience with police, courts, ICE agents, detention centers, jails, or prisons.

Through transnational dialogues facilitated by art and art-based workshops, formerly incarcerated artists engaged in intimate conversations and collaboratively collected created artifacts and objects desired during imprisonment or those that kept them connected to their outside life; created installations of banned smells, videos of pervasive surveillance, and they shared their experience of time and space with artworks that could be seen only in the mirror in another installation with embedded related soundscapes.  This collection along with artists' individual artworks are displayed in this exhibition.

While different regimes and nation-states lock up people based on distinct ideas of safety and order , through a collaborative, art-based process these artists found common practices of punishment permeated through their experiences. Whether they were detained in the notorious Evin prison in Iran, in any of the horrendous prisons in Illinois, or in horrific island prisons located off Australian shores, the violence of the carceral spaces and practices could all but break their humanity and ability to care for others. As transnational research reveals the off-shoring of American practices of punishment and incarceration to nations around the globe, this exhibition shows how these practices and policies are felt by those who have experienced them. In this way, this exhibition uses sensory experiences to think through the ways that punishment is used to hold power over lives across time and nationalities.

Artists include Vincent Robinson, Kenneth Norton, Monica Cosby, Lauren Stumblingbear, Imran Mohammad, Pablo Mendoza, Sarah Ross, and Nasrin Navab.

Design, Execution, and Curation by University of Illinois Visiting Artist Nasrin Navab in collaboration with Sarah Ross and Pablo Mendoza. 

Sponsored in part by the College of Fine and Applied Arts, Allerton Park & Retreat Center, and Krannert Art Museum. Support provided by the Illinois Arts Council Agency and National Endowment for the Arts. 

spiral bound page that has a grid of red markings with two circular fields, one gold and the other red and white. On each field is a rectangle.
  1. Feb 2, 2023 to Dec 22, 2023
A graceful plum tree in full flower sits under a full moon. The sky is inky black but the moonlight makes each blossom seem to glow with inner light.
  1. Mar 2, 2023 to Dec 22, 2023