Portraits of Justice by Russell Craig and Jesse Krimes. Photo by Steve Weinik.

About the Fellowship 

Creativity gives us the ability to reimagine the world around us, and the criminal justice system is no exception—but it’s the individuals directly impacted by our criminal justice system who are best positioned to lead conversations and find solutions to the problem of overincarceration. Through the lens of multiple artistic disciplines, five formerly incarcerated artists will propose ways to end cash bail, reduce probation violation, and reimagine diversion and reentry programs, which have contributed to Philadelphia’s rapidly rising county jail population. This new fellowship program is the result of a grant from the new Art for Justice Fund—a recently launched initiative founded by Agnes Gund in collaboration with the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors—that provides funding across categories of bail reform, sentencing reform, re-entry barriers, bearing witness, and arts programs.

During the inaugural Fellowship period, artists Russell Craig and Jesse Krimes—both formerly incarcerated artists and alumni of the Mural Arts Guild program—will lead the cohort in crafting projects that focus on supporting returning citizens rather than punishing them. The artists will have the opportunity to display their talents and to express their multidimensional perspectives, in addition to receiving $5,000 in support of their work. The Fellows will gather in Philadelphia in March 2018 for an orientation with leaders from the City’s MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge, and over the next several months, will return to present interactive work in front of the Municipal Services Building, also the site of a collaborative mural designed by Craig and Krimes. The Fellowship program will culminate in a fall symposium that asks the public to help reimagine Philadelphia’s criminal justice system, focusing on solution-based dialogues, and thinking about the potential for local solutions to be applied nationally.


Art for Justice Fund


City of Philadelphia Office of Criminal Justice
City of Philadelphia Managing Director’s Office
Philadelphia Department of Prisons
Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office
Defender Association of Philadelphia
Philadelphia Police Department
The First Judicial District of Pennsylvania
City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services