Milwaukee Art Museum
Press Release

The Role of Art and Artists in Criminal Justice Reform Discussed at Three-Day Symposium

’The Milwaukee Model: Envisioning the Role of the Arts in Criminal Justice Reform’ explores how arts programming may help change perspectives on the criminal justice system

By - Oct 17th, 2018 03:33 pm

Milwaukee, Wis. – October 17, 2018 – In an effort to promote dialogue around criminal justice reform in Wisconsin, the Haggerty Museum of Art and the Milwaukee Art Museum have co-organized The Milwaukee Model: Envisioning the Role of the Arts in Criminal Justice Reform, a symposium held at both locations, November 1-3, 2018.

At this three-day symposium, artists, scholars and experts from across the country will be brought together with groups in Milwaukee to discuss how arts and educational programming can be used to generate new perspectives on the criminal justice system and incarcerated individuals.

“As an academic art museum, the Haggerty Museum of Art is committed to galvanizing intellectual resources through the arts to inform, strengthen, and transform our communities,” said Susan Longhenry, Director and Chief Curator, Haggerty Museum of Art. “We’re thrilled to partner with the Milwaukee Art Museum, with the participating artists and speakers, and with members of the Milwaukee community to examine the role that artists and art museums can play in reframing, and advancing, deeply relevant social justice issues.”

According to a 2013 study conducted by the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, Wisconsin incarcerates more black males than any state in the country, at a rate nearly double that of any other state. This symposium builds on existing justice reform efforts and allows community members to consider the role of the arts in generating lasting social change.

“Both the Haggerty Museum of Art and the Milwaukee Art Museum are exhibiting work by artists who are questioning the justice system, engaging with justice-involved individuals, and approaching justice reform efforts through unique and creative lenses,” said Emilia Layden, Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Haggerty Museum of Art, and co-organizer of the symposium.

For the first two days, symposium participants will have the opportunity to hear from a variety of experts through a series of lectures and panels. Scholars, educators, artists and practitioners will introduce several arts-based initiatives that have been successfully implemented across the United States.

“This symposium offers an opportunity for expansive conversations with nationally recognized artists, scholars and practitioners to consider the role of the arts in criminal justice reform on a local and national level,” said Lisa Sutcliffe, Herzfeld Curator of Photography and Media Arts, Milwaukee Art Museum, and co-organizer of the symposium.

Speakers include Elizabeth Hinton, Associate Professor of History and African and African American studies, Harvard University, and author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America; Simone Browne, Associate Professor at the University of Texas-Austin, Visiting Associate Professor at Yale University and author of Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness; and artists Maria Gaspar, Nigel Poor and Sable Elyse Smith.

The final day of the symposium is a Community Day of Action, during which community members and stakeholders are invited to consider how the national models or artistic strategies presented could be adapted and implemented regionally. A series of artist-led workshops will be followed by facilitated breakout discussions with symposium speakers.

“Art has a history of exploring the issues of its time,” noted Marcelle Polednik, Donna and Donald Baumgartner Director, Milwaukee Art Museum. “It invites engagement, questions perceptions, and challenges what appear to be norms. With this symposium, for which the Museum is proud to be partnering with the Haggerty Museum of Art, we present art as a means through which we might otherwise approach the conversations around incarcerated individuals and the criminal justice system in our community.”

The symposium is presented in conjunction with The San Quentin Project: Nigel Poor and the Men of San Quentin State Prison, opening on October 18, 2018, at the Milwaukee Art Museum, and Sable Elyse Smith: Ordinary Violence, on view through January 27, 2019, at the Haggerty Museum of Art.

For more information and to pre-register for the symposium, visit:


The symposium The Milwaukee Model: Envisioning the Role of the Arts in Criminal Justice Reform is co-organized by the Haggerty Museum of Art and the Milwaukee Art Museum.

Sponsored by:

Brico Fund

Greater Milwaukee Foundation

Community Outreach Sponsor:

The Reva & David Logan Foundation

Media Sponsor:

WUWM 89.7 FM — Milwaukee’s NPR

Symposium schedule

Pre-registration is recommended. Separate registration is required each day.

Thurs, Nov 1, 7:30 p.m.

Curtis L. Carter Art and Social Change Lecture

Marquette University Weasler Auditorium

1506 W Wisconsin Avenue

Join us for the keynote conversation between Elizabeth Hinton, Associate Professor of History and of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, and author of From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime: The Making of Mass Incarceration in America; and Christian Viveros-Fauné, art and culture critic, curator, and author of Social Forms: A Short History of Political Art.

Fri, Nov 2, 10 a.m.

Milwaukee Art Museum, Lubar Auditorium

700 N Art Museum Drive

Listen to artists and experts, including artists Maria Gaspar, Nigel Poor and Sable Elyse Smith; Simone Browne, an associate professor at the University of Texas-Austin; and Sampada Aranke, an assistant professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, at a series of panels and discussions.

Sat, Nov 3, 10 a.m.

Marquette University Eckstein Hall

1215 W Michigan Street

Collaborate with community members through artist-led workshops, and discuss how perceptions of the criminal justice system and incarcerated individuals could be changed on a local level.

About the Haggerty Museum of Art

Founded in 1984, the Haggerty Museum of Art is an innovative nexus of interdisciplinary learning where creativity, intellect and social justice intersect. The Haggerty maximizes its intellectual role by serving as a center of excellence for high-impact, object-based teaching and learning for Marquette University faculty members and students. In addition, the Haggerty strives to convene and engage community members, leaders and organizations from Milwaukee’s diverse community in meaningful aesthetic experiences. Located in the heart of the Near West Side, adjacent to downtown Milwaukee, and open daily with free admission for all, the Museum is one of the most accessible arts venues in the city. The Haggerty stewards a permanent collection of over 6,000 works of art. For more information, please visit:

About the Milwaukee Art Museum

Home to a rich collection of more than 30,000 works of art, the Milwaukee Art Museum is located on the shores of Lake Michigan. Its campus includes the Santiago Calatrava–designed Quadracci Pavilion, annually showcasing three feature exhibitions, and the Eero Saarinen–designed Milwaukee County War Memorial Center and David Kahler‒designed addition. In 2016, after a yearlong renovation, the Museum reopened its Collection Galleries, debuting nearly 2,500 world-class works of art within dramatically transformed galleries and a new lakefront addition. This reimagined space also allows for the presentation of additional changing exhibitions. For more information, please visit:

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