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Exhibition: Seeing through Stone

IAS Seeing through Stone
Friday, April 12, 2024 - 12:00pm to Sunday, January 5, 2025 - 5:00pm
IAS Galleries—100 Panetta Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
Presented by: 
Institute of the Arts and Sciences

In 16 newly commissioned projects, alongside other works of video, painting, sculpture, installation, sound, and performance, across three exhibition sites, "Seeing through Stone" provides a model of hope in practice. The exhibition is a celebration of the expanding constellation of abolition: the organizing, dreaming, world-making, and creative activism around the globe that offers ways to see—and live– differently.

Prisons are so ingrained in history and the cultural imagination as to appear inevitable. From current structures of prisons, jails, and immigrant detention centers to past manifestations, such as Native American boarding schools and American chattel slavery, our world is bound together by carceral structures that equate punishment with justice. Yet as long as prisons have existed, alternatives to prison have also flourished. When poet Etheridge Knight (1931–1991) wrote from Indiana State Prison in 1968 of “seeing through stone,” he evoked the secret eyes of those able to see beyond the realities of prison to a world otherwise.

The 85 artists and collectives in "Seeing through Stone" see otherwise. Sharing a capacity for radical sight, they include currently and formerly incarcerated artists alongside those without that lived experience from different sociopolitical contexts around the globe. Their projects include supporting creative networks in Guantanamo, educating youth in Rio de Janeiro, and organizing landless farmers in the Philippines, as well as more poetic and conceptual projects engaging an aesthetics of abolition. Their work brings into view a world where people seek safety with, rather than from, one another; where medicine grows from prison manure and land is cultivated for food, not capital; where blue finally means sky.



  • Free parking 
  • Accessible parking on High Rd.