Art For Justice Fund

Art For Justice Fund was founded by Agnes Gund, who upon reading both Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow and Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy, as well as watching Ava DuVernay’s documentary 13th, looked to art as a vehicle to transform lives, disrupt mass incarceration, and propel empathy, by funding both artists and advocates who are working to reduce mass incarceration and reform the criminal justice system in the United States. 

Disproportionate incarceration and racial disparities within the system, unfair policies and prison sentences have affected communities. Discriminations and legal barriers have wrapped the right to justice.

Art as a tool can help bring justice to light. Through creativity, Art For Justice Fund, aim to change the narrative, unravel the injustices and racial biases found in the legal or prison system, as well as drive social change by bringing into the fold a variety of perspectives and conversations.

Their main aims are to ensure people are treated fairly and therefore that sentences are shortened when unjust, find opportunities for those reentering society, invest in artists who change the narrative or highlight perspectives, showcase everyday effects of injustices and racial biases and propel humanity and empathy.

Some of Art for Justice Fund's creative projects, include, The Philadelphia District Attorney Artist in Residency (the United State's first artist-in-residence program at a district attorney’s office), Voices: Safety, Justice and Community in America’s Heartland (artist Jesse Krimes through art, his exhibition and discussions on criminal justice reform in rural areas, reaches those who may be less prone to hearing about injustices), and Redaction
A Collaborative Exhibit between Titus Kaphar and Reginald Dwayne Betts
(The two artists intertwine poetry and portraits to tell people's stories of being trapped by an inability to pay their bail or small fines). Furthermore, auctioning artworks, such as Julie Mehretu's painting 'Dissident Score' which sold for $6.5 million, all proceeds are able to benefit the Art For Justice Fund.

So far $84.3 million have been allocated to 253 grants across 151 grantees. Some of these grants include:

Adnan Khan Founder of FIRSTWATCH, a media filmmaking project produced entirely by incarcerated men at San Quentin State Prison.

Aperture Foundation which was founded in New York City in 1953 and produces, publishes, and presents photography projects that stimulate dialogue on the role of images in contemporary culture. With the support of Art for Justice, they reframe the discussion around incarceration through a photography exhibition at the Cleveland Public Library in Ohio.

Arizona State University Art Museum Launching Undoing Time: A Visual History of Incarceration, a six month exhibition featuring contemporary artists presenting works with the aim to challenge and transform current practices and ideas on criminal justice. 

ART 180 founded in 1998, provides art programs in Richmond, Virginia, for young people aged 8 to 18 living in challenging circumstances.
Art for Justice Fund supported the Youth Self-Advocacy Through Art Program, which works with young people trapped in the school-to-prison pipeline.

California Lawyers for the Arts (CLA), Serving the creative arts community. Founded in 1974, CLA provide education, representation, and dispute resolution, whilst advocating for the arts in community development. With the Art For Justice grant, the CLA supported artist-activists Stone Singh and Christopher Duffy by installing in the multicultural Sacramento neighbourhood of Alkali Flat, locus of Chicano activism, a 12-foot high monumental sculpture of “In God We Trust”, a sculpture which refers to the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution that codifies the modern enslavement and involuntary servitude of individuals convicted of crimes.  The fund also supported the CLA's Art for Justice State Forum Project.

Mural Arts Philadelphia is a public art program rooted in mural-making, engaging the community and employing therapeutic practices with the aim to transform lives. For publication with the New Press, Mural Arts Philadelphia with the allocated grant, works with justice-involved artists to create a collection of 10 original works of art on reimagining a fairer legal system. With artist Russell Craig, they could expand his mural 'Crown' about racial justice, onto the east and west sides of the Municipal Services Building.

Recess Art, An art gallery opened in 2009, partner with artists to inspire a more inclusive and just creative community.
Recess and Performing Statistics through the Art For Justice Fund, were able to have participants affected by the justice system create artworks that reflect their interactions with law enforcement. The project culminated with an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum created by Project Reset participants.

The Art Students League, Since 1875, ensures affordable access to apprentice-style professional arts training for people at all stages of their life and career and disrupting social inequities. The Art for Justice Fund mounted a series of public art installations on the façade and interior of the League’s building in New York. 

See all the Grantees here:

Art For Justice Fund, are through the tool of art, showing how humanity can come together for a fairer world and justice system in the United States. For too long, discriminations and biases have affected things. By partnering with artists and advocates, a fairer and juster system as well as relationships can come about, and perspectives be brought forth into the fold, where understanding, togetherness, fairness and justice can shine for all.

To find out more about and support the Art For Justice Fund, check