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Visualizing Abolition: Abolitionist Feminisms

Beth Ritchie, Erica Meiners, and Sonya Clark
Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 4:00pm to 5:30pm
online event
Presented by: 
Institute of the Arts and Sciences

Join professors Beth Richie from the University of Illinois, Erica Meiners from Northeastern Illinois University, and Soyna Clark from Amherst College for a conversation on feminist organizing and abolition―specifically, queer, anti-capitalist, grassroots, and women of color.

This event is part of the Institute of the Arts and Science's Visualizing Abolition series.

FREE and open to the public
Register here
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About the Speakers
Beth Richie is the head of Department of Criminology, Law and Justice, professor of African American studies and gender and women's studies and the University of Illinois and Chicago. The emphasis of Beth Richie’s scholarly and activist work has been on the ways that race/ethnicity and social position affect women’s experience of violence and incarceration, focusing on the experiences of African American battered women and sexual assault survivors. Ritchie is the author of ​Arrested Justice: Black Women, Violence and America’s Prison Nation (NYU Press, 2012) which chronicles the evolution of the contemporary anti-violence movement during the time of mass incarceration in the United States.

Writer, educator and organizer, Erica R. Meiners’ current work includes a co-edited anthology, The Long Term: Resisting Life Sentences, Working Towards Freedom (Haymarket Press 2018), and For the Children? Protecting Innocence in a Carceral State (University of Minnesota 2016). A distinguished visiting scholar at a range of universities and centers, including University of Pittsburgh, Trent University, CUNY Graduate Center, the Simone de Beauvoir Institute, and Chicago’s Leather Archives and Museum, her work has been supported by the Illinois Humanities Council, the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, and a Soros Justice Fellowship. The Bernard J. Brommel distinguished research professor at Northeastern Illinois University, Meiners is a member of her labor union, University Professionals of Illinois, and she teaches classes in justice studies, education, and gender and sexuality studies. Meiners has collaboratively started and works alongside a range of ongoing mobilizations for liberation, particularly movements that involve access to free public education for all, including people during and after incarceration, and other queer abolitionist struggles. A member of Critical Resistance, the Illinois Death in Custody Project, the Prison Neighborhood Arts / Education Project, and the Education for Liberation Network, she is a sci-fi fan, an avid runner, and a lover of bees and cats.

Born in Washington, DC, to a psychiatrist from Trinidad and a nurse from Jamaica, Sonya Clark’s work draws from the legacy of crafted objects and the embodiment of skill. As an African American artist, craft is a means to honor her lineage and expand notions of both American-ness and art. She uses materials as wide ranging as textiles, hair, beads, combs, and sound to address issues of nationhood, identity, and racial constructs. Clark is a full professor in the Department of Art and the History of Art at Amherst College in Western Massachusetts. Clark’s work is exhibited in museums and galleries internationally, and she is the recipient of several awards including an Anonymous Was a Woman Award, and a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship.

About the Series
Visualizing Abolition is a series of online events organized by Dr. Rachel Nelson, director of the Institute of the Arts and Sciences, and Gina Dent, associate professor of feminist studies. The events feature artists, activists, and scholars united by their commitment to the vital struggle for prison abolition. Originally, Visualizing Abolition was being planned as an in-person symposium. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the panels, artist talks, film screenings, and other events will instead take place online. The events accompany Barring Freedom, an exhibition of contemporary art on view at San José Museum of Art October 30, 2020–April 25, 2021. To accompany the exhibition, Solitary Garden, a public art project about mass incarceration and solitary confinement is on view at UC Santa Cruz. 

Visualizing Abolition is organized by UC Santa Cruz Institute of the Arts and Sciences in collaboration with San José Museum of Art and Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery. The series has been generously funded by the Nion McEvoy Family Trust, Ford Foundation, Future Justice Fund, Wanda Kownacki, Peter Coha, James L. Gunderson, Rowland and Pat Rebele, Porter College, UCSC Foundation, and annual donors to the Institute of the Arts and Sciences.

Partners include: Howard University School of Law, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, Jessica Silverman Gallery, Indexical, The Humanities Institute, University Library, University Relations, Institute for Social Transformation, Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery, Porter College, the Center for Cultural Studies, the Center for Creative Ecologies, and Media and Society, Kresge College.

image credit: Sonya Clark, Edifice and Mortar, 2018. Hand-stamped bricks, human hair, and glass. Photo by Taylor Dabney.