Arresting Patterns: Perspectives on Race, Criminal Justice, Artistic Expression, and Community


September 2, 2015

September 12–13, 2015

Yale University Art Gallery
1111 Chapel Street
New Haven, CT 06510

50 Orange Street
New Haven, CT 06510

The urgent need to explore intentional and unintentional discrimination in the U.S. criminal justice system arises in the aftermath of the Ferguson verdict, the Baltimore riots, the killings of Eric Garner, the killing of William K. Scott, and the Charleston church shooting. These events have produced collective frustration around the question of whether every citizen is protected equally under the law, and they call for more frequent and transparent dialogue among citizens, law enforcement agents, and policy makers.

This conference positions artworks as starting points for a series of discussions on the interplay of race, mass incarceration, and justice at both the local and national levels. Each panel will begin with a short presentation by an artist who will share a recent or ongoing project. The artist will then join a larger panel of policy makers, scholars, and activists for a moderated conversation about questions raised by the work.

Saturday, September 12
2–2:30pm: Registration
2:30–2:45pm: Opening Remarks
2:50–3:50pm: “Race in the Media,” Courtney Baker, Josh Kovner, Kenya (Robinson), Frances Robles, Kirsten West-Savali
4–4:45pm: “Community Impact in New Haven,” Sabir Abdussabur, Clifton E. Graves Jr., Amos Smith
5–7pm: Malta Justice Initiative Book Reading

Sunday, September 13
9–9:30am: Registration
9:30–9:45am: Opening Remarks
9:45–10:35am: “Differing Perspectives on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System,” Shafiq Abdussabur, Dread Scott, Susan Shah
10:40–11:40am: “Stigma and Mercy,” George Chochos, Iyaba Ibo Mandingo, Linda Ross Meyer
11:45am–12:15pm: Artwork Breakout Sessions in the Gallery’s Collection
1–1:25pm: Artspace Summer Apprenticeship Program student performance
1:30–2pm: “Keynote” by Clint Smith
2:10–3:10pm: “Family Matters: The Unintended Effects of Incarceration on the Families of Prisoners,” Donald Braman, Giselle Jacobs, Titus Kaphar
3:20–4:20pm: “Decarcerating America,” Maria Gaspar, Mark Holden, Glenn E. Martin, Scott Semple, Peter Wagner
4:30–4:45pm: Closing Remarks
5–7pm: Closing Reception and Poetry Reading at Artspace by Shafiq R. Fulcher Abdussabur, Aaron Jafferis, Iyaba Ibo Mandingo, Dread Scott, R. Dwayne Betts

The Conference is co-sponsored by Yale University Art Gallery and will take place in the museum’s lecture hall (1111 Chapel Street, New Haven, CT) with evening receptions at Artspace (50 Orange Street, New Haven, CT).

Register for free at

“Arresting Patterns” at Artspace
To set the stage for the conference, Artspace curator Sarah Fritchey and New Haven-based artist Titus Kaphar have organized a group exhibition of work created from the 1960s to the present that identifies both individual and group agents of oppression. As defined by theorist Sally Haslanger, structural racism is an act of oppression or social/political wrongdoing against one or more races that is made possible by our collective arrangements. These arrangements routinely provide advantages for one or more races, while producing cumulative and chronic adverse outcomes for the others.

The artists account for these arresting and often overlooked patterns by using serial repetition as a strategy for articulating the shear volume of the offences at hand. The works are designed to elicit a variety of responses in the viewer: from proactive outrage to numbness and boredom. This range of emotional responses reflects how an event, repeated over time, may trigger a call to arms in one person and leave another feeling overwhelmed, helpless, or uninvolved.  Artists include: Jamal Cyrus, Maria Gaspar, Titus Kaphar, Iyaba Ibo Mandingo, Adrian Piper, Dread Scott, Tamms Ten Year (with lead organizer Laurie Jo Reynolds), and Andy Warhol.

About Artspace
For thirty years, Artspace has championed the ideas and artistic concerns of local artists and created space for exhibitions on some of the most urgent issues of our time. These topics have spanned the AIDS crisis (with the group exhibition Interrupted Lives in 1991), the War on Terror (Between Fear and Freedom, 2002), immigration (Mythical Nation, 2003), globalization and the loss of manufacturing jobs in Connecticut (Factory Direct, 2005), climate change (Futurecast, 2013) and, in 2015, racial bias in the criminal justice system.

Press contact Katie Jurkiewicz: katiej [​at​] / T +203 772 2709