Carceral Aesthetics: Prison Art and Public Culture


ACLS Fellowship Program


American Studies

Named Award

ACLS/New York Public Library Fellow named award


This project is a study of prison art and visual culture in the United States. Focusing on the past four decades, the era of mass incarceration, it examines a range of visual art and practices emerging inside prisons and about prison life, including photography, painting, miniatures, collages, and collaborative works with arts organizations and non-incarcerated artists. Carceral Aesthetics uncovers the creative labor, practices, and art of millions behind bars in the United States and emphasizes the importance of visual expression between incarcerated people and their intimate and social networks as practices of belonging and care. Moreover, the focus on visual arts and culture by incarcerated people contributes to a greater understanding of how imprisonment, especially mass incarceration, shapes family relations, public culture, and notions of democracy and freedom in the contemporary era.