Incarceration Affects Families and Communities





How Incarceration Affects Families and Communities: Call to Artists & Writers

This 2 year project includes writings, art exhibit, a documentary, and a book. It will focus on the art making and writing of works that show how the incarceration of humans has impacted the families and communities who are related.

Responding to the question - How we can can use art to protest, process, and object to How Incarceration Affects Families and Communities?—this project includes writings, art exhibit, a documentary, and a book. It will focus on the art making and writing of works that engage this difficult subject. We will consider the art works & writings to document, bear witness, and to show how the incarceration of humans has impacted the families and communities who are related to and who know those who have been incarcerated. In addition how have the neighborhoods of those families been affected?  Along with offering written works and art, that take up the subject, we will create a documentary, create a book from the writings and art, and post our outcome online to show our discussion of the ethics of representation,  and what it means to write about this violence and trauma, and neglect & damage of the people incarcerated and their families and their communities. We will focus on the craft of writing and art, which will engage viewers in responding both to the works of art in the exhibition and the writings which we will combine in a book and a film with spoken word.

The emphasis on the punitive and stigmatizing aspects of incarceration, which has resulted in the further literal and psychological isolation of prison from the surrounding community, compromised prison visitation programs and the already scarce resources that had been used to maintain ties between prisoners and their families and the outside world. Support services to facilitate the transition from prison to the free world environments to which prisoners were returned were undermined at precisely the moment they needed to be enhanced. Increased sentence length and a greatly expanded scope of incarceration resulted in prisoners experiencing the psychological strains of imprisonment for longer periods of time, many persons being caught in the web of incarceration who ordinarily would not have been (e.g., drug offenders), and the social costs of incarceration becoming increasingly concentrated in minority communities (because of differential enforcement and sentencing policies).

Studies report numerous negative outcomes for children as a consequence of parental incarceration, ranging from depression and anxiety to aggression and delinquency depending on circumstances such as the child’s age and the length of a parent’s incarceration (Child Welfare Information Gateway, 2015). Additional evidence points to children’s extreme trauma resulting from the experience of parental arrest.

In the Chicago neighborhood of North Lawndale, there is disagreement as to how many residents have been incarcerated at some time in their lives. It has been suggested that from 47% to 85 % of families have had someone in their family imprisoned at sometime.  Imagine the effect on the children, the families, the school system, the neighborhood, and the self-esteem and attitude of this community.

name of show/project: Incarceration Affect on Families and Community

We are accepting art works, size limited to 30 inches(paintings, ceramics, fiber, sculpture, wall art), written words (poems, essays, spoken word- all to be written and spoken & video taped)

Each artist will speak on tape about their art, or will read their words. We will use the recordings online. We will also use images of the art online. Art from the show and writings from the project will be used online.                                                                      

Send images of art or samples of writing about topic now: email to

Actual art, framed and display ready is due to arrive between August 24-30, 2023.

Final words for the event are due to arrive via email between August 24-30, 2023 (writings)

how to prepare art to be sent: If the art is to be hung on the wall it must have a wire on the back across from side to side about ¼ down from the top. We prefer this method as opposed to others. Make sure to wrap all art carefully and protect it from harm. Please send for guidelines on how to enter the art show.

how to prepare words to be sent: Make sure you have your work proofread. Make a videotape of you reading your work. Writings will be reproduced and accumulated in a booklet for people to read in the art gallery.

Dates: Approved artists/writers must make sure their writings and artworks arrive to gallery between August 24-30, 2023.   September 9 is the opening reception. Social Justice Stage Special Event take place outdoors September 16. November 18, 2023 is last day of show. Artists are responsible for the costs involved in getting their art to and from the gallery. Any art works that remain 5 days after the show closes will begin to accrue daily storage fees of $10.00 per day.

You will sign an artist agreement form in order to enter. 

thanks, Dianna C. Long, Curator










Chicago Urban Art Retreat Center

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