Celebrating the end of prison labor and remembering the anniversary of the Attica Prison Uprising and more recent prison labor strikes, by looking at the work of currently incarcerated artists.
The Thirteenth Amendment is celebrated for abolishing slavery, but it includes an exception clause for persons “duly convicted” of a crime. Today, incarcerated people across the United States. are forced to labor for little to no pay under the threat of further punishment due to this loophole.
The End the Exception exhibition is produced by Mural Arts Philadelphia and led by artist Phoebe Bachman in collaboration with Akeil Robertson-Jowers. Over the last year, the two have worked with the EndtheException Coalition and local Philadelphia partners to carry out a multi-phased project that engages those most impacted by the exception clause. Through commissioned artwork by currently incarcerated artists and End the Exception teach-ins across the country, this project provides a perspective on prison labor from those with direct experience in the system.
Within the exhibition, the story of the effect of the exception clause is told through drawings, paintings, and collages by currently incarcerated artists. Alongside these individual perspectives is a diagrammatic mural that outlines the larger system of prison labor. Visitors can listen to audio recordings played through prison phone booths; the recordings stitch together a narrative of economic punishment that affects not just the incarcerated individuals, but their families and communities as well.
Several public programs which elaborate on the core themes are scheduled during the duration of the exhibition.