On the Inside Art

Please visit OntheInsideArt.com for more!

ABRONS ART CENTER, 466 Grand Street New York, NY 10002
Nov 4–Dec 18, Gallery Hours: Tuesday to Saturday 11am–6pm, Sunday 12pm-6pm



In a nation that incarcerates more people than any other country in the world, LGBTQ prisoners face a greater risk of physical and sexual victimization. They are more likely to experience assault and abuse by corrections officers as well as other prisoners, and less likely to have support from family and friends on the outside due to their sexuality or gender identity. Behind bars, their identities are stripped away and they become just another number in the system.

On the Inside is a group show of LGBTQ artists who are currently incarcerated. The art is made from basic materials the prisoners have access to behind bars: mostly letter-sized paper, dull pencils, ball-point pen ink tubes (the hard shell is deemed too dangerous), and unlikely innovations such as using an asthma inhaler with Koolaid to create an air brushed painting.

This exhibit is the culmination of a multi-year project conceived of by Tatiana von Furstenberg in collaboration with Black and Pink.

The project started with a small ad in the Black and Pink newsletter, a monthly publication filled with prisoner-generated content. Ignited and inspired by this call for art, more than 4,000 pieces were submitted. Our forgotten family seized this opportunity to be heard, giving birth to this collective exhibition.

Forced to cope with a non-inclusive society, many marginalized Americans end up incarcerated because they lack resources and privilege. All too often these essential voices are silenced, in this case, because they are locked behind concrete and steel.

Through the lens of art, we on the outside have the opportunity to bear witness to the suffering and also celebrate the resilience of the artists who are locked up. The art on these walls demonstrates the ability of those who are suffering to still create beauty. Each of these pieces tells a story and these are stories we must listen to.

None of the artists will be in attendance as they are still behind bars, however, their works create cracks in the walls, allowing this much needed point of view to escape for the world to see.

All of the artists were paid for their work. This directly impacts the prisoners’ ability to provide for their well-being while incarcerated.

On the Inside has created a way for the public to directly interact with the incarcerated artists. Patrons will be able to text the artists through a transcribing service. Long term PenPals can be arranged onsite.

The art is not for sale.

Panel Discussion: Taking Action for Prisoner Justice, November 14, 6–9pm

This evening’s panel of LGBTQ community organizers and leaders in the movement for prisoner justice will offer concrete ways for attendees to go beyond the art and move into action.

The Abrons Arts Center is the performing and visual arts center of Henry Street Settlement. Founded in 1893 by social work and public health pioneer Lillian Wald and based on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Henry Street Settlement delivers a wide range of social services, arts and health care programs to more than 60,000 New Yorkers each year. Henry Street Settlement is thrilled to present this vital exhibition. We recognize the need to lend voice to the most vulnerable and marginalized members of our society. We hope that this exhibition will help to enrich the conversation and actions needed to improve prisoners’ rights.