Image Courtesy of Xavier Hadley


Cedar Annenkovna

American Artist

Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter aka Isis Tha Saviour

Sara Bennett

Kristina Bivona

Conor Broderick

Keith Calhoun & Chandra McCormick

Susan Lee-Chun

Daniel McCarthy Clifford

Tameca Cole

Larry Cook

Russell Craig

Halim Flowers

Henry Frank

Gwendolyn Garth

Maria Gaspar

Dean Gillispie

Ronnie Goodman

Gary Harrell

James “Yaya” Hough

Ashley Hunt

Jesse Krimes

William B. Livingston III

Mark Loughney

Ojore Lutalo

C.A. Massey

George Anthony Morton

Ndume Olatushani

Jesse Osmun

Jared Owens

Kenneth Reams

Rowan Renee

Gilberto Rivera

Billy Sell

James Sepesi

Sable Elyse Smith

Todd (Hyung-Rae) Tarselli

Jerome Washington

Aimee Wissman

Press Release

April 6, 2023—The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture will host the traveling exhibition Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration. Documenting the work of more than 30 artists, including people in prisons, formerly incarcerated artists, and work by nonincarcerated artists concerned with state repression, erasure, and imprisonment, the exhibition will be on view throughout the historic research library. Marking Time will open to the public on Monday, May 1, at 5 PM with all three galleries on view, an artist talk, and a performance.

Featured artists include James Yaya Hough, Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter, George Anthony Morton, Tameca Cole, Sable Elyse Smith, Larry Cook, and more. Marking Time is curated by Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood (James Weldon Johnson Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University) with exhibition coordinator Steven G. Fullwood (former assistant curator of the Schomburg Center’s Manuscripts, Archives & Rare Books Division) and Novella Ford (Associate Director of Public Programs and Exhibitions at the Schomburg Center). The exhibition is based on Fleetwood’s book of the same name.

“The Schomburg Center, and NYPL in general, provided vital resources and support for researching Marking Time. Moreover, for over a century, Harlem has been crucial for the convergence of art, cultural engagement, and Black freedom struggles, of which abolishing prisons and ending the criminalization of vulnerable populations are vital components,” said Fleetwood. “The Schomburg has long been a leader in Harlem, NYC, and the nation in research and programming that foreground the relationship between art, social movements, and liberation.”

Marking Time aligns with the nearly 100-year-old Schomburg Center’s history in preserving and making accessible the world’s knowledge of African Diasporic history. The exhibition employs the Schomburg Center’s collection of the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition. In 1971, the work of the coalition grew to include the creation of an Arts Exchange program in prisons in response to the uprising against inhumane conditions at the Attica Correctional Facility.

“The Schomburg Center remains a foundational resource for bringing out of the shadows and into conversation, ideas that continue to shape Black life. The impact of the viciousness of the carceral system is one, as are the many examples of the transformational power of the arts to cultivate paths to liberation of the mind and body,” said Ford. “Marking Time offers an opportunity for the Schomburg to help audiences extend their understanding of what happens inside of prisons, provides a view of the rich creative lives of incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people, and to convene community members, organizations, scholars and artists in more dialogue.”

Marking Time features works that are shaped by their relationship to prison, punishment, and criminalization and bear witness to what Fleetwood calls “carceral aesthetics” rather than a form of therapy or “outsider art.” The artists in this exhibition reveal how incarceration transforms the fundamentals of living—time, space, and matter—and reimagine these changes to create new aesthetic possibilities.

Unique to the Schomburg Center’s exhibition, are new additions to the roster, including artists Kristina Bovina, Henry Frank, Gwendolyn Garth, C.A. Massey, Ndume Olatushani, and Kenneth Reams; as well as new works from artists already featured in the traveling exhibition. The lead artwork for the exhibition was created by the late Ronnie Goodman, a self-taught artist, runner, urban bicyclist, and jazz enthusiast who rediscovered and developed his art through the Prison Arts Project of the William James Association at San Quentin State Prison.

The exhibition has previously been on view at MoMA PS1, the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Brown University. To learn more about Marking Time, visit the exhibition’s website. While at the historic Schomburg Center, Marking Time will be displayed in all three of the research library’s three galleries – the Edison/Latimer Gallery, the Main Exhibition Hall, and the Media Gallery.

In line with the New York Public Library’s pillars of access to knowledge, the Library continues outreach work in its NYPL Jail & Prison Services program (JPS). Established in 1980, the Jail and Prison Services program has recorded 1,500 patron engagements per month with its circulating book service in Rikers Island, creates family programming including storytime workshops for incarcerated parents, and answers reference letters from prisons across the country. The NYPL Jail & Prison Services program annually publishes Connections: A Free Guide for Formerly Incarcerated People – the largest and most robust reentry community resource in New York City.

Major support for Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration is provided by the Mellon Foundation and the Art for Justice Fund, a sponsored project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Additional funding is provided by NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture/NYPL..