The Drawing Center is pleased to announce its third Winter Term, an initiative that investigates drawing as a tool for addressing inequity and encouraging social change. Building upon themes presented in the exhibition The Pencil Is a Key: Drawings by Incarcerated Artists, The Drawing Center has partnered with the Chicago 400, a grassroots campaign of formerly incarcerated and convicted people experiencing homelessness in Chicago, and artist, policy advocate, and researcher Laurie Jo Reynolds. This iteration of Winter Term explores the intersection of drawing and criminal justice reform, specifically as it relates to fearbased policies, the unintended consequences of public registration laws, and the expansion of the carceral state.
Winter Term 2020 begins on January 21, 2020 with an exhibition of drawings produced by the Chicago 400 and culminates with a public symposium on Saturday, January 25, 2020, featuring programming that expands upon the Chicago 400’s ongoing advocacy work. All events are free and open to the public.
With work that operates at the juncture of legislative reform and artistic practice, Laurie Jo Reynolds challenges the demonization, warehousing, and social exclusion of people in the criminal legal system. Her recent work focuses on conviction registries, housing banishment laws, and public exclusion zones, which destabilize families and lead to homelessness, unemployment, and re-incarceration. Reynolds is an Assistant Professor of Public Art, Public Policy, and Media in the Department of Art at the University of Illinois at Chicago. As part of her ongoing advocacy work, Reynolds is currently coordinating an alliance to support the Chicago 400.
The Chicago 400 are Chicagoans with past convictions who are listed on a public conviction registry—most of whom are also subject to lifelong housing and public space banishment. Because they are also experiencing homelessness, they must report and re-register weekly at Chicago Police Headquarters. The penalties for missing even one day of registration are extreme—often resulting in a prison sentence or a decade of additional registration time. This complex maze of laws often forces people and their families into dire situations, such as sleeping in their cars, camping overnight outside the police station, living in trains and buses, losing employment, and becoming homeless with their families.
The Chicago 400 work with a variety of partners—including victim, criminal justice, and housing advocates, as well as reentry specialists, treatment providers, prison watchdog groups, and faith ministries—in an effort to direct scarce state resources toward proven policies for public safety. Together, the Chicago 400 and their partners seek to reduce victimization, support crime survivors, and allow people with past convictions to meet their essential needs and return to full citizenship. They are currently working to introduce reform legislation in January 2020.
In weekly meetings, the Chicago 400 produce visual materials including hand-drawn diagrams and maps that depict the logistics of carrying out registration laws, including their weekly journeys to the police station. These drawings have allowed the group to communicate their experiences to legislators and other system stakeholders, for whom these laws and their impact are largely invisible.
Coffee with Laurie Jo Reynolds and Maya Szilak
Thursday, January 23, 12–3pm
FREE RSVP →
Artist, policy advocate, and researcher Laurie Jo Reynolds will be present in the exhibition space, along with Maya Szilak, Research and Policy Counsel, John Howard Association of Illinois, and other special guests, to engage with visitors and answer questions about the works on view. Reynolds and Szilak will welcome conversations on any topic—including art education, risk assessments, prison monitoring, Howard Finster, metaphors for finish lines, and direct-mail campaign ads.
Drawing Workshop with the Chicago 400
Friday January 24, 4–7pm
FREE RSVP →
Join the Chicago 400 for an interactive drawing workshop inspired by the visual materials, including hand-drawn diagrams and maps, presented in the exhibition.
Our Fellow Americans: A Symposium on Public Conviction Registries
Saturday January 25, 12–6pm | Please see below for full schedule of programs
FREE RSVP →
12–1pm | “We Carry the Laws Out”: Opening Reception + Exhibition Walkthrough
Join members of the Chicago 400 Art Committee for a walkthrough of the exhibition of drawings that diagram and depict how they follow the registry regime and housing and public space banishment laws.
Participants include: John Cameron, Art Committee, Chicago 400; Sid Hughes, Art Committee Co-Chair, Chicago 400; J.J., Art Committee, Chicago 400; Clifford Kight, Art Committee Co-Chair, Chicago 400; Scott McFarland, Chicago 400 Alliance
1–1:45pm | Meet the Chicago 400: Lessons in the Carceral State
Learn more about the Chicago 400’s unique arts and organizing campaign to reform registry and banishment laws. Panelists will explain the organizing strategy, how art is a transformative part of the work, and how they are advocating for policies that prevent victimization - support survivors, hold people accountable for harm, but then let people move on with their lives after they have served their time. They will also discuss the disproportionate impact these laws have on poor people of color.
Participants include: Gary Dabney, Bronx, N.Y. resident experiencing homelessness because of N.Y. laws; Michael Moore, Legislative Committee, Chicago 400; Laurie Jo Reynolds, Coordinator, Chicago 400 Alliance; Zakiyyah Seifullah, Legislative Committee, Chicago 400; Maya Szilak, Research and Policy Counsel, John Howard Association of Illinois
2:15–3:30pm | Let Us Try to Explain This: New Yorkers Are Detained in Locked Facilities Because They Can’t Find Housing That Doesn’t Exist
Visitors to the exhibition may wonder if there are similar registration policies in New York, or a campaign to address them. Indeed, New York also has policies with extreme unintended consequences. Learn about the people impacted, the constitutionality of this arrangement, and strategies to address this crisis from legal experts, advocates, and people who have been through this system.
Participants include: Allison Frankel, Aryeh Neier Fellow, Human Rights Watch/ACLU, New York; Emily Horowitz, Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology & Criminal Justice, St. Francis College, Brooklyn; author of Protecting Our Kids?: How Sex Offender Laws Are Failing UsCharles King, Chief Executive Officer, Housing Works, New York; Robert Newman, Legal Aid Society, Criminal Defense Practice, Special Litigation Unit, New York; and counsel for Richard Alcantara in Alcantara v. Annucci; Robert O., Directly impacted-person and advocate for reform of housing banishment laws, New York; Pauline Syrnik, Fellow, Legal Aid Society, Criminal Appeals Bureau, New York; Amber Vlangas, Survivor, registry-impacted family member; Advocacy Chair for the Center for Rational Justice Studies.
4–4:45pm | The Logic of the Punitive State
J.R. Packingham was convicted of a felony for saying “Thank you Jesus” on a public Facebook post. He decided to challenge it, ultimately taking the case to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled unanimously that his First Amendment rights were violated. Using this rare victory as a point of departure, Goldberg will discuss strategies for addressing the expansive reach of the carceral state. Lancaster will historicize this discussion by exploring the complicated relationship between sexuality and punishment in our society, the modern suburban culture of fear, and the punitive logic that has put down deep roots in everyday American life.
Participants include: David T. Goldberg, constitutional and public law litigator in the U.S. Supreme Court and federal and state appellate courts, and counsel for J.R. Packingham in Packingham v. North Carolina; Roger Lancaster, Professor of Anthropology and Cultural Studies, George Mason University, Washington DC; author of Sex Panic and the Punitive State; Willie Trent, directly-impacted person and advocate, New York Sex Offense Policy Work Group
5–6pm | Closing Reception
Join organizers, presenters, and other policy advocates for a closing reception of the show and the symposium.
6–8pm | Next Steps Mixer and Dinner (organized by the New York Action Alliance & co-sponsored by the New York Sex Offense Working Group)
The New York Action Alliance and The Chicago 400 are co-hosting a “Next Steps” Mixer to bring together professionals, advocates, those directly impacted, and/or anyone else interested in helping New York and other states become leaders in transforming their public conviction registry laws.
Sign up to join us at a restaurant within walking distance of the Drawing Center for a light, buffet-style meal. Please RSVP → by 1/17/20.
Winter Term 2020: The Chicago 400: Lessons in the Carceral State is organized by Rosario Güiraldes, Assistant Curator. Our Fellow Americans: A Symposium on Public Conviction Registries is organized by Bill Dobbs, Emily Horowitz, David T. Goldberg, Laurie Jo Reynolds, Jill K. Sanders, and Pauline Syrnik, with support from the New York Action Alliance and the New York Sex Offense Working Group.
Winter Term 2020: The Chicago 400: Lessons in the Carceral State is made possible by The Drawing Center Exhibition Fund and the MacArthur Foundation. Special thanks to Art for Justice and Open Society Foundations, along with Chicago partner organizations Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, Treatment Alternative for Safe Communities (TASC), Kolbe House Jail Ministry, and John Howard Association of Illinois.
Image: Sid Hughes, Map depicting the enforcement of registration laws. Courtesy of the Chicago 400.