Creative Justice

Hedreen Gallery | September 28 - November 24, 2019

Up from the Table is an exhibition of new work by artists and cultural organizers working with Creative Justice, an arts-based alternative to incarceration for young people in King County. The exhibition features photography, sculpture, textile, and sound created by the youth artists of Creative Justice in collaboration with program mentor artists Dan Paz, Le’Ecia Farmer, Ashley Tiedeman, and Olisa Enrico and program directors Aaron Counts, and Nikkita Oliver. The work explores the human cost of mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline.

entrance to the Hedreen Gallery with the Title Wall of Creative Justice's exhibition

All installation photography by Joe Freeman Jr.

Much of the work is comprised of materials sourced from the local community at a mid-summer family dinner hosted at historic Washington Hall. There, attendees sat for family portraits, shared oral histories, and contributed clothing items from those loved ones lost to the criminal-legal system. Up from the Table is an elegy for those people and a tribute to those left behind. It challenges us to reimagine what justice is and what it can be; to consider our current state of mass incarceration and ask not just How did we get here? But also, What toll does that take on our communities?

a quilted shirt suspended before a black wall

Hood Shit--Quilted Hoodie, Cotton Bandana, Prison Issue Sneakers

The Underground Railroad Quilt Code existed to guide escaping enslaved people to freedom. Hidden in plain sight, quilt pattern—like flying geese, monkey wrenches, and wagon wheels—relayed important messages about heading north and the tools needed to escape. Similarly, young people fleeing the school to prison to deportation pipeline relay messages to one another through symbol in this quilted hoodie. After the murder of Trayvon Martin, hoodies have become emblematic of certain assumptions and oppression in Amerikkka and of our need to get free.


Strong Medicine --Wood, Iron Pipe, Muslin, Leather and Microphone

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 Point Blank --Wood, Textile, Acrylic, Carpet and Leather Boot

The struggle of migrants at the Southern US border is not dissimilar to that of youth in our communities. Both are targeted by quasi-military a police force and a general disregard for their health and safety. Some of the pieces here were donated by No More Deaths, which provides aid in the Southern Arizona desert to anyone in need of relief, regardless of citizenship. It includes the camouflage pants and footprint-masking carpet swatches, as well as a non-reflective black water bottle, used to prevent Border Patrol or citizen groups from finding emergency water rations and draining them, putting migrant families and individuals at risk of death.

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You must learn to leave the table when love is no longer being served.

 Nina Simone

Wood, Textile, Acrylic, Carpet and Leather Boot Wood, Iron Pipe, Muslin, Leather and Microphone


mirror on a table with photographs on the wall behind

Visitation --Wood, Mirrors, Epoxy, Found Objects and SoundUp from the Table

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Community Portrait Series, printed digital photographs

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In the Artist's Words:

The school to prison pipeline is real, and far too many of our youth—most of them black, brown, and poor—are jailed despite major research that shows juvenile incarceration does not make communities any safer.

We know we are better off when we connect with each other. That’s what we want to do. Creative Justice is an art program, and it is also a social justice movement. Both are born of imagination: they are about exploring the possibilities that we create as individuals and as members of a collective. They document where we are and where we want to go. They articulate the power and potential of our communities in the face of systems actively working for our demise.

Discarded Books, Acrylic, Chicken Wire installed on the Benches of the Hedreen Gallery windows

Curriculum for the School to Prison Pipeline --Discarded Books, Acrylic, Chicken Wire

horizontal ruleOrganization Information:

 Creative Justice offers an arts-based alternative to secure detention for young people in King County. Envisioning new opportunities to care for youth rather than locking them away, Creative Justice centers and builds community with those most impacted by systemic causes of mass incarceration: racism, classism and other forms of oppression. Creative Justice advocates for court-involved young people to remain in the community, using art to amplify their voices and promote change. Through an agreement with King County Courts, the time and creative work youth invest in Creative Justice can be used in mitigating any active court case they may be facing. In this way, Creative Justice asks our justice system to behave differently: to view our youth through a wider lens, to trust the community to address its own needs and to celebrate the strengths and creativity of young people navigating a complex world. Visit Creative Justice website.

Related Events: 

book club flyer for Creative Justice Event

Special Thanks: 

Dan Paz
Dashni Amin
Matteo Hernandez
Le’Ecia Farmer
Olisa Enrico
Ashley Tiedeman
Naa Akua
Jason Vickers
Oloth Insyxiengmay
Kris Baldwin
Akeela Olebar-Dowers
Coco Decker
Kate Murray
Anna Iwasaki
Meilani Mandery
Jasmine Mahmoud

Photographic Center Northwest
No New Youth Jail
No More Deaths
Seattle Foundation
Pigott Family Endowment for the Arts

 *The banner image at the top of this page features artwork by Carol Rashawnna Williams (2019), Romson Regarde Bustillo (2019), Sanctuary City Project (2019-20), and E.T. Russian (2019-20).


Hedreen Gallery

Lee Center for the Arts (CNFA)

Open Wednesday through Saturday from 1-6pm