Exhibition curated by Damon Locks and Sarah Ross. Presented by Arts + Public Life in partnership with the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project.

Date & Time

Friday, September 21, 2018 - 6:00 PM to Tuesday, November 20, 2018 - 6:00 PM


Arts Incubator Gallery, 301 E Garfield, Blvd, Chicago, IL


FREE | Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 12-6pm

More Information



Exhibition on view: September 21-November 20
Opening Reception: Friday, September 21, 6-8pm

Gallery Hours: Wednesday-Friday, 12-6pm

Presented by Arts + Public Life in partnership with the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project.


Between 2016-2018, artists, writers and members of the Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project created a series of thematic works around long-term sentencing policies and the other long terms they produce: long-term struggles for freedom, long-term loss in communities, and long-term relationships behind the prison wall. These projects emerged out of classes and collaborative work at Stateville prison, where people are serving extraordinarily long prison terms (60, 70 and 80 years), often for crimes for which they would have already been released, had they been sentenced 30 years earlier, or in a different country.

Implemented in the 1990s and 2000s, long-term sentencing policies were ushered in as bipartisan reforms and an extension of the “tough on crime” logic. Recent state and federal efforts to reduce mass incarceration have focused on “non-violent drug offenders”. However, if the United States were to free all people incarcerated for what are called “non-violent offenses,” mass incarceration would still stand at just over 700,000, and the racial disparities of criminalization would be even more evident. While freeing people is cause to celebrate, these proposed reforms neglect half of the nation’s state prison population and forget that at one time, long-term sentences were not the norm. The Sentencing Project reports that 1 in 9 people in prison are serving life sentences, and 1 in 7 have sentences of fifty years or more. People locked in, or headed to, maximum security prisons are marked for death-by-incarceration.

The Long Term includes body of creative work that includes: a 13 minute hand-drawn animation made by artists serving long term sentences; a series of video interviews with people impacted by long term sentencing; an audio installation documenting a conversation among formerly incarcerated leaders about carceral policy; a portfolio of risographic prints made by 15 Chicago artists; a series of miniaturized “survival kits” for the long term, made by artists surviving long term sentencing and a series of works on paper. Each project represents one of the many ways we seek to make visible how punitive policies and incarceration shape our communities, families, and ultimately, life-chances.