In-Progress

End the Exception: Abolish Slavery in Prisons

The 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude except for persons “duly convicted” of a crime – was a compromise that was made with the Confederacy in 1865.

Design provided by Darnell Schoolfield

  • location United States
  • Neighborhood

    United States

  • completion date

    October 15, 2022

About the Project 

The 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution – which abolished slavery and involuntary servitude except for persons “duly convicted” of a crime – was a compromise that was made with the Confederacy in 1865. As a result, those incarcerated in many states across the country are still subject to involuntary servitude. As mass incarceration disproportionately criminalizes Black people, slavery still persists in the United States and targets the descendants of its original victims. There is a growing movement of people and organizations dedicated to ending this exception. This project intersects with a powerful window of opportunity to engage people in learning about the 13th Amendment and adding their voices to calls for change.

Alongside a coalition of advocates from the End the Exception campaign, Mural Arts are bringing together a group of formerly incarcerated artists, facilitated by Phoebe Bachman, that elevates awareness of the Abolition Amendment on addressing mass incarceration. The core of the project consists of working with artists who are currently or formerly incarcerated to create artworks about the labor they’ve performed during incarceration. Mural Arts is working with Justice Arts Coalition to commission currently incarcerated artists. Artists will be invited to create drawings, collages, paintings, and written or recorded descriptions about their labor, and will be compensated for their original contribution.

 

  • 13th Amendment Project, participant artwork. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • 13th Amendment Project, participant artwork. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • 13th Amendment Project, participant artwork. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • 13th Amendment Project, participant artwork. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • 13th Amendment Project, participant artwork. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • 13th Amendment Project, participant artwork. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

In the second phase, Akeil Robertson and Phoebe Bachman will host a series of teach-ins about the 13th Amendment, using the Worth Rises Educational Curriculum and drawings created by those inside as learning tools. During these teach-ins they will collect additional input from those who are impacted by state violence, weaving in their narratives of how the exception in the 13th amendment has impacted not only those inside but their families and entire communities. Mural Arts is partnering with three states: Florida, Louisiana, and California, which experience high rates of incarceration to install murals in their cities. The murals will be created from posters of the drawings done by those inside correctional facilities.

The third phase of the project is about creating an impactful public art installation in front of Philadelphia’s National Constitution Center (NCC). The installation will tell the story of the 13th amendment from the perspective of those who have spent time laboring inside prisons. While the installation is running, members of the coalition will be invited to host events on the history of the 13th Amendment and the need for the Abolition Amendment.

For more information on End the Exception.

Partners 

Councilmember Kendra Brooks Office
Worth Rises
Justice Arts Coalition
The Walls Project
Latino Justice
The Art of Healing and Justice Network
California Lawyers for the Arts

Sponsor 

Art and Advocacy Grant from Art for Justice