Program Overview

From 2017-2019, Envisioning Justice, created and facilitated by Illinois Humanities, engaged Chicagoans in a citywide conversation about the impact of incarceration on local communities and invited residents to use the arts and humanities to devise strategies for lessening this impact.

Through Envisioning Justice, Illinois Humanities partnered with seven Chicago-based organizations (in five neighborhoods) to design arts education classes and public humanities discussion programs that exemplified creative community-based solutions to the longstanding systemic impacts of incarceration on communities across the city of Chicago. These organizations (Hubs) were at the heart of Envisioning Justice and are passionate leaders dedicated to community healing, providing localized resources and illustrating alternatives to our current legal system.

Bright Star Community Outreach

#TheBreathingRoom Space
Back of the Yards

OPEN Center for the Arts 
Little Village

BBF Family Services
North Lawndale

Circles and Ciphers
Rogers Park

Just Art
Facilitates Programming at Cook County Jail (Cook County Department of  Corrections)

Free Write Arts & Literacy
Facilitates Programming at Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center

In addition to arts education classes and community dialogues, Envisioning justice offered:

  • Citywide Grants: for arts and humanities programs in carceral facilities, for communications efforts to strengthen documentation around policy and data, and for community-led discussions.
  • A final exhibition including seven artist commissions, artwork and ephemera from all Hubs, and artwork from various criminal justice reform activists and collectives

Illinois Humanities was incredibly inspired by the collective advocacy for equitable justice, accountability, safety, and restoration led by our Hub partners, collaborators, and artists who shared their perspectives through Envisioning Justice. In 2020-2022,  Envisioning Justice will continue to seek opportunities to strengthen community efforts in reimagining justice in Chicago, but will also design and facilitate state-wide programming and community-led discussions to explore the interregional impact of incarceration throughout the state of Illinois.

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