On The Inside: A Group Show Of LGBTQ Artists Who Are Currently Incarcerated

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In a nation that incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, LGBTQ prisoners face a greater risk of physical and sexual victimization. They are more likely to experience assault and abuse by corrections officers as well as other prisoners, and less likely to have support from family and friends on the outside due to their sexuality or gender identity. Behind bars, their identities are stripped away and they become just another number in the system.

On the Inside is a group show of LGBTQ artists who are currently incarcerated. The art is made from basic materials the prisoners have access to behind bars: mostly letter-sized paper, dull pencils, ball-point pen ink tubes (the hard shell is deemed too dangerous), and unlikely innovations such as using an asthma inhaler with Kool-aid to create an air brushed painting.

The project started with a small ad in the Black and Pink newsletter, a monthly publication filled with prisoner-generated content. Ignited and inspired by this call for art, more than 4,000 pieces were submitted. Our forgotten brothers and sisters seized this opportunity to be heard, giving birth to this collective exhibition.

None of the artists will be in attendance as they are still behind bars, however, their works create cracks in the walls, allowing this much needed point of view to escape for the world to see.

All of the artists were compensated for their work. This directly impacts the prisoners’ ability to provide for their well-being while incarcerated. 

On the Inside has created a way for the public to directly interact with the incarcerated artists. Patrons will be able to text the artists through a transcribing service. Long term PenPals can be arranged onsite.

The art is not for sale. 

This exhibit is the culmination of a multi-year project conceived of by Tatiana von Fürstenberg in collaboration with Black and Pink.

Black and Pink is a nationally networked grassroots organization, including nine chapters across the United States, working to meet the immediate needs of LGBTQ prisoners while simultaneously building the movement for the abolition of the prison industrial complex. Black and Pink is the largest organization of LGBTQ prisoners ever, reaching 10,000 prisoners with a monthly newspaper of prisoner-generated content. Black and Pink has facilitated the connection of thousands of prisoners with outside pen pals and continues to grow those relationships. Black and Pink also supports the inside organizing of prisoners as they articulate their own demands in the prisons where they are held. The staff of Black and Pink is made up, exclusively, of formerly incarcerated people while volunteers come from a wide variety of experiences including a history of incarceration as well as those who have never been arrested or imprisoned.

Press for On the Inside
CR Fashion Book
Time Out 

Manhattan Magazine

For more information please visit: www.ontheinsideart.com
Media contact: Folake Ologunja Folake@folakeforever.com

ON THE INSIDE PANEL:  Moving to Action In Support of LGBTQ Prisoners:
Monday November 14th | 6 – 9 PM | RSVP Now

After being inspired by the incredible artwork created by LGBTQ prisoners, join in and listen to this panel of organizers and advocates who will share ways for anyone to get involved in the larger movement to support LGBTQ prisoners and abolish the prison industrial complex. The majority of panelists are formerly incarcerated people themselves and will incorporate reflections on their own experience behind the prison walls along with specific actions attendees can take to be involved in the movement. 

The evening will start with an opportunity to view the art and partake in light refreshments from 6-7pm. The speaking will begin with Tatiana von Furstenberg sharing about the vision for the project and her hopes about what viewers will gain from the exhibit. Following Tatiana, Jason Lydon, the National Director of Black and Pink, will offer framing about the current realities faced by LGBTQ and/or HIV+ prisoners in the US as well as sharing why Black and Pink believes abolition of prisons is the solution to these injustices. Jason will then facilitate the panel discussion and ensure time for audience questions.

Panelists include:
Patreese Johnson – Patreese is a member of the NJ4, a group of women who were incarcerated after defending themselves against an attack in the West Village. Patreese served the longest sentence of the women involved in the incident. She is the youngest of four brothers and one sister. She grew up as the youngest on the block in her tight-knit community in Newark, New Jersey. She is fiercely empathetic with a big heart. While incarcerated she received her GED and ran a support group for women who were survivors of domestic violence. Since her release, she has enrolled at Essex County Community College, studying for Associates degree in Liberal Arts.

Chase Strangio – Chase is a Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s LGBT & AIDS Project. Chase’s work includes impact litigation, as well as legislative and administrative advocacy, on behalf of LGBTQ people and people living with HIV across the United States. Chase has particular expertise on the treatment of transgender and gender non-conforming people in police custody, jails, prisons and other forms of detention.

Stefanie Rivera – Stefanie is the Director of Client Services at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project in NYC (SRLP). Stefanie is a long time member, consultant and former Prisoner Rights intern, and now SRLP’s Director of Client Services. Stefanie helped found the Prisoner Justice Project at SRLP and, as one of SRLP’s original members, has played a pivotal role in SRLP’s development.

Douglas Rogers – Douglas is one of the original members of Black and Pink and currently sits on the National Leadership Circle. Douglas was incarcerated for nearly 2 decades in the federal Bureau of Prisons. While inside he was active in challenging the harm caused by prison staff, particularly their homophobic targeting of gay prisoners. Douglas was also involved in supporting prisoners as he provided peer support for suicidal prisoners and accompanied sick and dying prisoners during dialysis and other medical procedures.

Mitchyll Mora and Reina De Aztlan are founding members of Fight to Live (F2L) F2L is a New York City based group of individuals doing support work for queer and trans people of color facing time in the New York State prison system. We fight for queer and trans people of color who have been charged with felonies and other higher level offenses, and individuals who are appealing those convictions. Their work includes resourcing individuals with commissary, housing, care packages, books, cash money, and more. They also provide media support, courtroom support, and general advocacy within state systems.