Skip to page content
Studio Magazine

Echoes: A Collaborative Abolitionist Curriculum in Four Chapters Chapter Three: Wisdom

Studio Museum

"Echoes" was a collaboration between The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Department of Learning and Engagement and The Fortune Society’s Creative Arts program. These pages are structured according to the workshop curriculum’s four chapters: Haunting, Invitation, Wisdom, and Embodiment.

Chapter Three: Wisdom is offered through the related resources of artworks, readings, and videos that explore the intersections of art and incarceration.

At the root of this collaboration is abolition which historically refers to the end of slavery but has come to include the end of institutions founded in white supremacy, capitalism, and cisheteropatriarchy, including policing, prisons, immigration detention centers, and borders. Abolition is both a destructive and constructive process in that it is not only about defunding or closing prisons but also about creating and developing institutions focused on community safety—housing, healthcare, education, and employment, the means to preventing what we currently understand as “crime.” This entails an internal (psychosocial) and external (political-economic-structural) process that will require a change in how we relate to ourselves, each other, and our surroundings. The workshops explored questions of how we might begin this internal process, such as: How do we hold or carry experiences in our bodies? How might we change, adapt our (bodily) responses to the past?

We are aware that since the George Floyd protests of 2020, a plethora of lists, syllabi, and lectures related to abolition, mass incarceration, and “the prison-industrial complex” have been produced and distributed. Here we hope to contribute specifically to the intersection of art and incarceration, specifically highlighting artists who are or have been incarcerated.


“Building Spaces for Creativity and Healing at Rikers Island,” article by Jennifer Harley and Chloe Hayward

“Is Prison Necessary?” article by Ruth Wilson Gilmore

Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, book by Nicole Fleetwood

Felon, poetry by Reginald Dwayne Betts

The Pencil is the Key: Drawings by Incarcerated Artists, exhibition at the Drawing Center (New York, NY) 

Growing Abolition, exhibition at MoMA PS1 (New York, NY)

Prison Nation, exhibition at Aperture Gallery (New York, NY)

Visualizing Abolition, exhibition series by UC Santa Cruz’s Institute of the Arts and Sciences (Santa Cruz, CA)

Freedom & Captivity, program series by a coalition of Maine-based organizations 

"Abolitionist Imaginaries," recorded symposium at MoMA PS1 (New York, NY)

"Carceral Aesthetics," recorded lecture of Sable Elyse Smith and Nicole R. Fleetwood at the Institute for Contemporary Art (London, UK)

"Prisoner’s Apothecary," project by Solitary Gardens (New Orleans, LO)

Time, film directed by Garrett Bradley

Studio Museum Archival Materials

Benny Andrews, Echoes: Prisons, U.S.A.

More in Studio Magazine
Explore further