Right of Return

The Right of Return x Represent Justice Experience was a pop-up art experience hosted at Eastern State Penitentiary, the first place designed specifically to inspire penitence among its prisoners. ESP, once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, is now a Museum. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world’s first true “penitentiary.” ESP is a historic site located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue in the heart of Philadelphia.

The Experience centered the voices and experiences of those who have been the most impacted by incarceration and uncovered important truths about the United States’ history of oppression. The Right of Return Experience featured a national cohort of predominantly formerly-incarcerated artists from various disciplines. The featured works were a broad, multifaceted response to mass incarceration, using video, sculpture, painting, photography, commissioned installations, poetry readings, and performances. At its core, the exhibition aimed to expand the possibilities of how art might respond to a lived experience of confinement and helped reaffirm a larger truth: vast and rich human potential, artistic or otherwise, is wasted when 2.3 million people are behind bars.

This exhibit featured the work of:

  • Amy Elkins (Parting Words)
  • Daniel McCarthy Clifford (Section of Disapproved Books)
  • Dwayne Betts (Bastards of the Reagan Era (audio excerpts))
  • Sheri Crider (Flight)
  • Russell Craig (The Real O.G.’s Series)
  • Jesse Krimes (Apokaluptein 16389067)
  • Mary Baxter (Ain’t I Woman)
  • Tyler Held (Identity Control)
  • Dehanza Rogers (#blackgirlhood)
  • Jess Perlitz (Chorus)