The Confined Arts (TCA) is a program that cultivates and showcases the talents and creative voices of artists directly impacted by mass incarceration and intersecting social justice issues. TCA enables artists to express their voices through the visual and performing arts, poetry, and music as a means to abolish inhumane narratives and socially degrading stigmas that are used to describe the past experiences and limit the futures of individuals impacted by incarceration. Through artistry, collaborative activism, research, education and training, TCA equips artists to influence policy change, and use their artistry and knowledge to advocate for a world anchored on empathy and saturated with healing and prevention-based policies.
TCA has a 2-part mission:
TCA has a 2-part mission:
- Counter and change the dehumanizing narratives that are driving criminal justice policy to empathy based narratives that enable the imagination and implementation of scenarios and solutions transcending the stigmatizing and unjust status quo;
- Recognize and elevate the role of the arts in touching people emotionally, fostering human connection, building empathy, bridging worlds, changing the hearts and minds of people able to influence policy, and building activism, envisioning a world different from the one currently existing and enabling people to make it a reality.
- Who are new and established and are directly impacted by the criminal legal system. We are dedicating our artistry to advocating for the advancement of equal rights and humane treatment for people impacted by the criminal legal system.
- Award-winning students from Columbia University studying at every level of our academic career, collaborating with students and scholars from academic institutions around the world
- At Columbia University conducting cutting edge research designed for strategic advocacy campaigns to decrease punitive triggers in the Criminal Legal System
- AS grassroots organizers we have organized individuals in communities of color and beyond to unite and agree across visual art and storytelling projects. Our advocacy methods were cultivated over the years by the leadership at the Center for Justice at Columbia University, who are formerly incarcerated, and also organize people from the ground up. Since 2015 we have included every form or art to advocate for changing the narrative for people impacted. Our success in shaping public attitudes and motivating action has been in our ability to build social capital with the leaders on the ground to circulate a shared message.
- From being directly incarcerated, to those people who have lost friends and family members to incarceration, all the way to people who have dedicated their lives to pursue justice as legal litigators, we have identified that stakeholders at every level are impacted by the criminal legal system. We bring together the different perspectives of the many stakeholders impacted by mass incarceration, which centralizes a collaborative activism approach, which equally relies on the professional and lived experiences of each stakeholder.
Art, no matter the medium, should never be seen as a means for satisfying decorative desires, nor should the implementation of art programing be viewed as a supplemental means for entertaining crowds. The role of art in activism must be elevated to the level of its capacity to change the hearts and minds of people. Art is at the forefront of change. The process begins when we imagine a new world, one that is devoid of stigma and inequality. Resourceful artistic creativity within social change is one of the most influential and sometimes overlooked methods of problem solving. When rational lived experiences are not enough to change people's minds, attitudes, and behavior, art and popular culture have the potential to touch people on deeper levels of consciousness.
message from tca founder