More Beautiful, More Terrible: Humans of Life Row Exhibition and Events Series

More Beautiful Poster

May 1 – Jun 6, 2024
Exhibit: Saturdays 12-5 p.m. and by appointment; Events: Vary


3219-21 S Morgan St
Chicago, IL 60608



This event is presented by Illinois Humanities grantee partners P+NAP and CSRPC.

American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible than anything anyone has ever said about it.” -James Baldwin


More Beautiful, More Terrible: Humans of Life Row is a counter-narrative, a sustained act of resistance, an exhibition that reveals the intimate experiences, transformative ideas, and beautiful dreams of people facing the stark realities of life sentencing in Illinois. These sentences are commonly described as death by incarceration because they condemn people to confinement until their death. Nevertheless, as contributing artist, Reginald BoClair, states, “Though sentenced to die in prison, we are alive.”

Inspired by the popular Humans of New York photography project highlighting stories and photographs of the varied people on the streets of New York, More Beautiful, More Terrible: Humans of Life Row explores the views, hopes, worries, aspirations, and everyday lives of the diverse array of people concealed by the logics and structures of mass incarceration. Through personal narratives, artistic expressions, installations, and poetic verse, this exhibition shines a light on the people who inhabit 'life row.'

The collected works create space for contributing artists, family members, policymakers, public officials, and the wider public to learn more about themselves, each other, society, and the consequences of life sentencing in hopes of inspiring alternative forms of justice, accountability, and healing.

Learn more

More Beautiful Poster

Note: Given the legionnaire's crisis inside IDOC, the exhibition will serve as a water collection site in collaboration with the Coalition to Decarcerate Illinois. Attendees are invited to bring sealed bottles of water to the collection site to be donated to communities in Stateville.


THURSDAY, MAY 2, 2024, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM 
Join Parole Illinois for an insightful program that sheds light on the evolution of parole systems in Illinois. Through panel discussions, and fundraising efforts, attendees will be invited into meaningful conversations on parole reform and its impact on communities. Panelists include Jimmy Soto, Kevin Blumenberg (Swack), James Lenoir, Ben Austen, and Shaneva McReynolds moderated by Ashton Hoselton

SATURDAY, MAY 4, 2024 
11:00 AM | Everyday Objects from the Public Housing to Prison Pipeline
Join Lisa Lee (Executive Director, National Public Housing Museum), Dorothy Burge (artist and educator), and Colette Payne (Director, Reclamation Project, Women's Justice Institute) in conversation about the Everyday Objects from the Public Housing to Prison Pipeline. After the discussion, Exhibition Co-organizer and Co-curator Aaron Hughes will lead the gallery walk. 

1:00 PM | Two Tales of (In)Justice: Fighting Death by Incarceration from the Inside Out
Join James Soto and Renaldo Hudson as they share their stories and pathways to freedom moderated by Alice Kim. Both men survived decades of long-term incarceration.

THURSDAY, MAY 16, 2024, 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
Join Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project for a comprehensive report back and update on PNAP’s two-year initiative at Logan Prison. Starting as listening sessions, the Logan Initiative has evolved into various course tracks and reading groups inside. As we continue to shape the initiative, our team is visualizing & dissecting the long-term implications of our work at Logan. Members of our team will dive into the various aspects of this work and show a snapshot of our current zine project set to be shared in June.

TUESDAY, MAY 21, 2024, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Join More Beautiful, More Terrible: Humans of Life Row featured artists to discuss the exhibition and the transformative power of art.

Saturday, June 1, 2024, 2:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Join Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project for a reception to celebrate the closing of More Beautiful, More Terrible: Humans of Life Row. Attendees of all ages will be invited to write letters, make buttons, and screen print designs from the artists at Stateville Prison with William Estrada and Aaron Hughes.

Think Tank

This exhibition is part of a broader Humans of Life Row initiative that emerged from the Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project Think Tank at Stateville Prison. The Think Tank is composed of scholars, writers, and artists who seek to transform the material and ideological conditions created by carceral logics through in-depth research, policy analysis, and advocacy, alongside creative cultural projects. The Think Tank seeks to make key interventions and offer critical insights to the broader movement to end mass incarceration from within one of the most brutal geographies of the prison-industrial complex. As Devon Terrell, an inaugural Think Tank member, put it: “[we] walk into the future by visualizing it today.”

The Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project (P+NAP) is a visual arts and education project that connects teaching artists and scholars to incarcerated students at Stateville Prison through classes, workshops, guest lectures, and a think tank. 

Learn more