Unthinkable Imagination:

A Creative Response to the Juvenile Justice Crisis

  • Duration
    January 21 – June 10, 2023
  • Curated by

    Syrita Steib, Dolfinette Martin, Gina B. Womack, Ernest Johnson and Aaron Clark Rizzio are the museum’s equal partners in the creation and development of the exhibition, together with special projects curator, Miriam Taylor Fair, guest curator, Jennifer M. Williams, and Newcomb Art Museum curator, Laura Blereau. Critical research for the exhibition has been facilitated by Andrew Mellon community engagement coordinator, Lexus Dawn Jordan, curatorial assistant, Alex Landry, and research assistant, Hanan Al-Bilali. Further support was provided by Operation Restoration, Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, Ubuntu Village, and the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights.

About the Exhibition

Centering the voices and experiences of more than 20 system-impacted youth participants, the exhibition utilizes paintings, illustrations, photographs, performance, sculpture, sound, collage, and mural work to navigate this difficult topic. While addressing the history of the youth justice system in Louisiana, the root causes of the system, and the direct harm it does to young people and their families, the show constantly underscores what is truly lost when we give up on the youth of our state—their humanity. Through the art, audio, color and movement, Unthinkable Imagination aims to constantly point – metaphorically and visually – towards the future by asking us all the question what could a Louisiana without youth prisons be?

As one young person involved in the show succinctly answered, “Somewhere I’m supposed to be.” By lending their voices, their talents, their experiences, and their creativity the youth involved in Unthinkable Imagination have fashioned a place of belonging and ownership, a place where joy takes precedence—where their dreams are center stage. We invite you to see, hear, and feel these stories. We hope that you to leave here changed, moved to action on behalf of the youth of our state, to ensure that they have the freedom to be kids and the freedom to shape their own future.

The exhibition includes commissioned artwork from Abdul Aziz, Nic[o] Brierre Aziz, Adrienne Brown-David, Nya Carolington Skipper, Aubrey Edwards, Dave Greber, Robert Jones, Ivy Mathis, Demond Matsuo, Louise Mouton Johnson, Gyanni Paris, Pat Phillips, McKinley “Mac” Phipps, Jr., Sheila Phipps, Nik Richard, Vitus Shell, Mariana Sheppard, Sha’Condria “iCon” Sibley, Maxx Sizeler, Charm Taylor and Breanna Thompson. Additionally, the exhibit features art projects created with youth, in workshops led by teaching artists Langston Allston, Jose Cotto, Cherice Harrison-Nelson, Linda A. Reno with Nic[o] Brierre Aziz, Sheila Phipps, and Marta Rodriguez Maleck.

    Images