Social Fabric: Incarceration, Art and Restorative Justice

May 23, 2023 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm Griswold House and Live streamed on Vimeo

Join us for an important discussion surrounding mass incarceration, restorative justice, the right of return, and the role of the arts to empower and heal. Inspired by the work of exhibiting artist Jesse Krimes in Social Fabric: Textiles & Contemporary Issues, this conversation is an opportunity to build a collective awareness of structural racism within the prison industrial complex, and the role of creatives to help us see a more humane way forward regarding crime, punishment, and what it means to be absolved. This talk will bring into conversation key voices to lead us through this complex topic from the national to the local, the systemic to the individual, leaving us with a greater understanding of how best to create change.

Dr. Francine Weiss, the Museum’s Director of Curatorial Affairs & Chief Curator will be joined in conversation by Jesse Krimes, Wendy Sawyer, Research Director at the Prison Policy Initiative, Cheryl Robinson, Board President of Turning Around Ministries in Newport, with moderation by Cheryl Hatch, Newport Bureau reporter for The Public’s Radio.

RSVP for in person strongly recommended. RSVP required to receive live stream link.

Meet our Guests:

Jesse Krimes is an artist whose work explores societal mechanisms of power and control with a focus on criminal and racial justice. While serving a six-year prison sentence he produced and smuggled out numerous bodies of work, established prison art programs, and co-created artist collectives. After his release, he co-founded Right of Return USA, the first national fellowship dedicated to supporting formerly incarcerated artists. He also successfully led a class-action lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase for charging formerly incarcerated people predatory fees after their release from federal prison. Krimes’ work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, Palais de Tokyo, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the International Red Cross Museum. He was awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Pew Center, Rauschenberg Foundation, Creative Capitol, and Art for Justice Fund. His work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Kadist Foundation, Bunker Artspace, and the Agnes Gund Collection.

Wendy Sawyer is the Research Director at the Prison Policy Initiative, a national organization that conducts research to expose the broad harms of mass incarceration and to fuel advocacy campaigns for change. She is the author of numerous reports, including the organization’s most widely-referenced report, Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie, which provides a “big picture” perspective of mass incarceration in the United States each year. She has also authored or co-authored reports on the commercial bail bond industry, the impact of incarceration on community spread of COVID-19, youth confinement, the misuse of police and jails to respond to social problems, gender disparities in incarceration, and the financial burdens of probation. In addition to these reports, Wendy conducted the Prison Policy Initiative’s frequently-cited 50-state surveys of wages for prison labor and medical copays charged to incarcerated people, and she frequently contributes shorter briefings on a number of issues related to incarceration, community supervision, and criminalization.

Cheryl Robinson is Board Chair of Turning Around Ministries (TAM), a non-profit faith-based organization located in the Broadway area of Newport that has been providing community-based services to under-served or at-risk persons since 2005. In December of 2008, the TAM Day Center Service opened, a place where people can go Monday through Friday to procure extensive emergency and/or on-going services, including but not limited to housing, job training, food, and clothing. The Day Center also serves as a place where people can come to drink coffee, play cards or board games, watch television, or read books as an alternative to wandering the streets. Although our target populations are the homeless and formerly incarcerated persons, our services extend to anyone who presents a legitimate need.


Moderator: Cheryl Hatch, Newport Bureau Reporter for The Public’s Radio is a multi-lingual storyteller with a broad background in journalism as a reporter, photographer and educator with extensive international experience. Early in her career, Cheryl focused her camera and reporting on war, its aftermath an its effects on soldiers, their families and those caught in the crossfire, especially women and children. She has worked in Liberia, Somalia, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Eritrea. In the winter of 2011-2012, she embedded with the 1/25 Stryker Brigade Combat Team 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment in Afghanistan.

Cheryl is a recipient of the Pew Fellowship in International Journalism at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She documented the lives of women, including former fighters, in her project: A Luta Continua: Eritrean Women Defending National Borders and Defining Gender Boundaries. Her photographs have been exhibited worldwide, including at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., the Sony Gallery in Cairo, Egypt and the Leica Gallery in Solms, Germany. Her work has also been published in newspapers and magazines, including Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and Paris Match.