Stanford University Provides Lecture on Art Made Behind America’s Prison Walls.

On Thursday, January 16th, on the campus of Stanford University’s Oshman Hall, in the McMurtry Building, from 5:30 pm, to 7:00 pm, will be a lecture from Rutgers University Professor, Nicole Fleetwood. Her lecture is a part of Stanford’s Department of Art & Art History’s new speaker series, Living Art History: Race, Methodology & Praxis. Professor Fleetwood will be discussing her forthcoming book, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, a powerful document of the inner lives and creative visions of men and women rendered invisible by America’s prison system. Her work examines the impact of mass incarceration on contemporary art and culture. It focuses on art made in US prisons and in collaboration with artists and activists across the nation, she explores various aesthetic practices of incarcerated artists who use carceral space, penal matter, and juridical papers to produce art about carcerality. An aesthetic she calls, a “carceral aesthetics.” This aesthetic is not limited to the reappropriation of taxpayer funded, prison stuff, no matter how immaterial these items seem to the public-at-large, but these artists’ political affects from their creations. Why should you be paying attention to Professor Fleetwood’s research? Because American prison culture, influences American street culture. American street culture, influences American popular culture, and American popular culture, influences Global culture. The Graffiti Art movement in America, originated from its prisons. Now the most valuable artwork in the Contemporary Art market comes from American Graffiti Artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat. In 2018, Jean-Michel Basquiat fetched more than $45 million at Phillips in New York. A year earlier, another Basquiat crossed the $100 million threshold, the first-ever 8-digit result for a Contemporary artwork. Besides graffiti, American prison tattoo culture has had a profound influence on American street culture. Again, here is another example of America’s street culture, its tattoo culture, taking a foothold, or rooting itself into the fabric of American popular culture. But that what makes Professor Fleetwood’s lecture on “carceral aesthetics,” so noteworthy, because it will be prospective, rather than reflective, in its presentation.

Stanford University, Oshman Hall, McMurtry Building
January 16, 2020, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
General Public
Department of Art & Art History and Stanford Arts Institute
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[Editor’s Note]: Nicole Fleetwood is a writer, curator, and professor of American studies and art history at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Her books are Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (Harvard University Press, 2020), On Racial Icons: Blackness and the Public Imagination (Rutgers University Press, 2015), and Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness (University of Chicago Press, 2011). She is co-editor of Aperture magazine’s Prison Nation, a special issue focusing on photography’s role in documenting mass incarceration. Fleetwood has curated exhibitions and events on art and mass incarceration at the Andrew Freedman Home, Aperture, Cleveland Public Library, Zimmerli Art Museum, Mural Arts Philadelphia, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, and the Urban Justice Center. Her work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the NYPL’s Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, ACLS, the Whiting Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, Schomburg Center for Scholars-in-Residence, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Ford Foundation, NJ Council for the Humanities, and the NEH.

Image: A Prison Sculpture, by prisoner artist, Joseph “Lil Man” Valencia. See “Prison-Sculpator Donates to Fundraiser.” DeviantArt,

See, Nicole R. Fleetwood, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, Harvard University Press,