ACKNOWLEDGEMENT BY PASTOR ISAAC SCOTT, FOUNDER AND LEAD-ARTIST
During my incarceration, art was the means by which I was able to financially provide for myself as well as psychologically withstand the day-to-day torture of imprisonment. Hearts, flowers, and foliage gave me peace during uncertainty. My art forced me to reconsider what I viewed as purposeful in life, and I found that what I valued was not the status quo. Nevertheless I managed to stay within the lines of my creativity while illustrating outside of the popular narrative. My process of creating beauty under the harshest of circumstances helped me to reconcile a more sensitive and resilient side to myself.
In 2014, one year after my release, I launched The Confined Arts as an exhibition featuring the artistry of individuals who are currently and formerly incarcerated. Seven years later, with the help of the Justice in Education Initiative at Columbia University, The Confined Art has developed into an interdisciplinary public art and advocacy program that is housed (since 2015) at the Center for Justice at Columbia University, (since 2020) at the Center for Institutional and Social Change at Columbia Law School, and (in 2022) at Mount Zion A.M.E. Church on 116 street and Madison Ave. In 2020 The Confined Arts partnered with the Center for Court Innovation and Conspiring for Good to MAP, GALVANIZE AND SUPPORT artists, arts organizations, projects, and programs focused on racial justice, restorative justice, transformative justice, and Criminal Justice Reform. Our goals are: To sustain a community of individuals and organizations working at the intersection of art and justice system reform, with a focus on community resilience and prevention through advocacy and reform.
Since 2014, The Confined Arts has produced visual and performing arts public programming and film-based projects that target specific aspects of the criminal legal system to shed light on or counter harmful, reductive, and dehumanizing narratives that shape and inform public perception and policy decisions. Through the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent national attention on our country’s history of systemic racism, TCA has responded by continuing to create art that challenges and changes the narrative of the criminal legal system and those directly impacted by America's carceral system. As a result of the impactful work of The Confined Arts, I’ve received foundation support as well as a historic 4 consecutive Change Agent Awards from the School of General Studies at Columbia University.