Welcome to Art Against Imprisonment – From Palestine to the U.S.

This exhibit is an internationalist collaboration which emerges from the intersecting struggles against imprisonment in Palestine and the U.S.  Incarcerated people contest the deliberately brutalizing and dehumanizing structures of the carceral system with writing, poetry, drawing, painting, tatreez (Palestinian embroidery), sculpting, and weaving. Through their art, they resist and claim a liberated space. This exhibit is a small testament to their imagination, brilliance, creativity and the sheer magnificence of displaying resistance, even behind bars. 

The development and role of the prison systems of the U.S. and the prolonged Israeli occupation and apartheid regime has many historical parallels and shared methods of carceral control including interrogation, solitary confinement, child imprisonment, family separation, sexual violations, administrative detention and centers, surveillance techniques, and involvement in the arms trade. In addition to closely cooperating and exchanging strategies, they have influenced and shared strategies and resources with many other countries.   

Behind the Logo

Art is one of  the most critical and inspiring forms of solidarity between our movements against imprisonment and toward collective liberation. Art breaks down barriers, walls, gender norms, languages and, in many cases, the social and political infrastructures that are used to separate our struggles. The logo for this art exhibit represents a common commitment to break through the prison walls with the fist of (self)-determination and the spirit of sumud – steadfastness.  Handala, the child standing with their hands clasped behind their back, was first created by Palestinian artist Naji Al-Ali in 1969 to represent the forced displacement of Palestinian people from their homeland. Handala has become a Palestinian national symbol of resistance and has grown to have a global significance. Naji Al-Ali wrote that Handala “was the arrow of the compass, pointing steadily towards Palestine. Not just Palestine in the geographical terms, but Palestine in its humanitarian sense –the symbol of a just cause, whether it is located in Egypt, Vietnam or South Africa”. The “All Power to the People” fist, designed and popularized by Frank Cieciorka in the mid 1960s, has since been a symbol of the Black Power struggle, resistance and liberation.

Who We Are 

Over the last decade of work between organizers and organizations in Palestine and the US, there have been connections of joint struggle and the centrality of class, race, and gender in both of our societies. From panels to delegations, internal and external events, this project has come out of a 2-year process that has maintained a collective space to explore the connections of movement building. Art Against Imprisonment’s Website is Hosted by: Addameer (a Palestinian Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association based in Ramallah, Palestine), Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), California Coalition for Women Prisoners (CCWP), Freedom Archives, Palestinian Youth Movement (PYM),, US Palestinian Community Network  (USPCN).