In-Progress

Points of Connection

Direct dialogue on criminal justice reform, through art.

Points of Connection portraits by James "Yaya" Hough. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

 
 
 

About the Project 

As the inaugural Artist-in-Residence at the Office of the District Attorney of Philadelphia, artist James “Yaya” Hough worked to humanize people living and working within systems of criminal justice by cultivating relationships and connections through his artmaking.

Hough is a renowned painter who developed and augmented his artistic talents while serving a once-life sentence at Philadelphia’s Graterford State Correctional Institution. Incarcerated in 1992 at age 17, he took art classes and contributed to over 50 murals installed outside of the walls of the prison through Mural Arts’ Restorative Justice program. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life in prison in 2012, and that the ruling would be applied retroactively, he was resentenced and released in 2019. Since his release and return to his native Pittsburgh, Hough’s work has been featured in museum exhibitions at MoMAPS1 and the African American Museum. He also is committed to changing the prison system in Pennsylvania and abolishing life without parole through organizations Decarcerate PA! and Project LifeLines.

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Portraits 

  • Points of Connection portrait of Dorothy Johnson-Speight by James "Yaya" Hough. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • Points of Connection portrait of Ebony Wortham by James "Yaya" Hough. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • Points of Connection portrait of Larry Krasner by James "Yaya" Hough. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • Points of Connection portrait of Donnell Drinks by James "Yaya" Hough. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • Points of Connection portrait of Carolyn Temin by James "Yaya" Hough. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • Points of Connection portrait of Michael Smokey Wilson by James "Yaya" Hough. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • Points of Connection portrait of John Pace by James "Yaya" Hough. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • Points of Connection portrait of Tahira Fortune by James "Yaya" Hough. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • Points of Connection portrait of Stanley Crawford by James "Yaya" Hough. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • Points of Connection portrait of Patricia Cummings by James "Yaya" Hough. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

Despite COVID distances and shutdowns, Hough built meaningful relationships with individuals from several overlapping circles – formerly incarcerated people, victims’ advocates, and members of the District Attorney’s office – to paint them in portraits and discuss together what justice means to them. These portraits, titled Points of Connection, and the resulting conversations in one-on-ones and small group salons, provided a window into the larger system, person by person, to approach criminal justice from perspectives of transformation, repair, and growth.

 

  • Points of Connection mural dedication at the District Attorney's office, September 30, 2020. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney poses with James "Yaya" Hough's portraits of Carolyn Temin and Dorothy Johnson-Speight installed outside of his City Hall office. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Points of connection portrait of Tahira Fortune. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • On January 15, 2020, PBS Newshour interviewed artist James "Yaya" Hough and DA Larry Krasner at the District Attorney's Office in center city Philadelphia. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Points of connection portrait of Larry Krasner. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • On January 15, 2020, PBS Newshour interviewed artist James "Yaya" Hough and DA Larry Krasner at the District Attorney's Office in center city Philadelphia. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Points of connection portrait of John Pace. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • Points of Connection mural dedication at the District Attorney's office, September 30, 2020. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Points of connection portrait of Michael Smokey Wilson. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

  • Points of Connection mural dedication at the District Attorney's office, September 30, 2020. Photo by Steve Weinik.

  • Points of connection portrait of Carolyn Temin. Photo by Akeil Robertson.

To mark the completion of his residency, Hough’s portraits will be publicly exhibited in several contexts appropriate to our times of COVID and much-needed reimagining of justice. They will be exhibited as large-scale vinyl prints at key sites of justice in Center City, including outside of the District Attorney’s office. Smaller printed keepsake versions of the portraits will be packaged as a portable exhibition, available for free at special events and by postal mail, and delivered to every municipal office, criminal justice site, and selected schools throughout Philadelphia. Additionally, several of the physical painted portraits will be installed in sites of art and justice throughout Philadelphia as a reminder of the power of storytelling and coalition-building to change the way we make justice and art together.

Select portraits are on public display through October 31, 2020, at the following locations 

Tours and Events 

Purchase Tickets for Points of Connection Walking Tours
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In the News 

Hyperallergic
KYW Newsradio
Philadelphia Inquirer
Philadelphia Magazine
NBC10

Partners 

Fair and Just Prosecution
Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office

Funder 

Art for Justice Fund