Barring Freedom

Curated by Rachel Nelson and Alexandra MooreBarring Freedom is an art exhibition on view at the San José Museum of Art. It will travel to John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City in the fall of 2021. 

The exhibition features works by important U.S.-based artists that challenge the dominant ways people see and understand the complex nexus of policing, surveillance, detention, and imprisonment that makes up the nation’s prison industrial complex. 

Barring Freedom is accompanied by Solitary Garden, a public art project by jackie sumell about mass incarceration and solitary confinement, and Visualizing Abolition, a series of online events planned in collaboration with UC Santa Cruz Associate Professor of Feminist Studies Gina Dent

While Barring Freedom was conceptualized before the current crises, it is with the urgency of the times that the exhibition underscores the importance of artists and creative practitioners in envisioning a world beyond prisons.

Barring Freedom and Visualizing Abolition are organized by UC Santa Cruz Institute of the Arts and Sciences in collaboration with San José Museum of Art and Mary Porter Sesnon Art Gallery. The series has been generously funded by the Nion McEvoy Family Trust, Ford Foundation, Future Justice Fund, Wanda Kownacki, Peter Coha, James L. Gunderson, Rowland and Pat Rebele, Porter College, UCSC Foundation, and annual donors to the Institute of the Arts and Sciences.

Partners include: Howard University School of Law, McEvoy Foundation for the Arts, Jessica Silverman Gallery, Indexical, The Humanities Institute, University Library, University Relations, Institute for Social Transformation, Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery, Porter College, the Center for Cultural Studies, the Center for Creative Ecologies, and Media and Society, Kresge College.

San José Museum of Art
110 South Market Street
San José, CA 95113

Visit for hours of operation and admission information.

Image credit: Hank Willis Thomas, If the Leader Only Knew, 2014. Bronze. Approximately 80 inches. © Hank Willis Thomas. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Sunday, May 30

San Jose Museum of Art

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Invited Audience

Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Students, Prospective Students, General Public, Graduate Students


Arts & Culture


Institute of the Arts and Sciences


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