Envisioning Justice

Hero EJ Program

Since 2017, Envisioning Justice has created free public arts and humanities programs in partnership with communities and people affected by the carceral system and provided grant funding for individuals, nonprofits, and collectives. Learn more about upcoming events, watch our past programs, download resources, and learn about grant funding below.

  • Toni Picasso 87 cr CM Designs Photography

    Guests create a group artwork at an Envisioning Justice Activation event in Carbondale. (Photo by CM Designs & Photography)

  • EJ Gallery WTTW Tyreecepanel cr Glitter Guts Photo

    Tyreece Williams (left), program manager of Envisioning Justice, speaks with panelists about their reentry experiences. (Photo by Glitter Guts)

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    The subject of a painting by Toni Picasso (Antonio Burton) poses with their portrait at an event in Carbondale, Ill. (Photo by CM Designs & Photography)

  • EJ Gallery Vershawn Sanders Ward 2018

    Artist Vershawn Sanders-Ward performs at an Envisioning Justice event.

  • EJ Gallery WTTW Meredith cr Glitter Guts Photo

    Illinois Humanities Community Educator Meredith Nnoka presents a poem by Jimmie Moody, an incarcerated writer, at a program presented by WTTW's FIRSTHAND: Life After Prison and Illinois Humanities. (Photo by Glitter Guts)

  • EJ Gallery 2019 Exhibition Artby Gabriel Villa cr Haley Scott

    Participants in a performance artwork by Gabriel Villa enter the gallery space at SAIC where Envisioning Justice the Envisioning Justice Exhibition in 2019. (Photo by Haley Scott)

Inside & Out: The Humanities and Mass Incarceration

How might humanities councils engage with people and organizations most impacted by the carceral system?  And how can we work together to imagine a truly just future? 

From Thursday, March 14 through Saturday, March 16, 2024, humanities councils colleagues and their community partners from around the country gathered to explore the roles that the humanities and humanities councils play in illuminating the impacts of mass incarceration, interrogating the dehumanizing nature of the criminal legal system, and paving a path toward restoration and healing.

24 state humanities councils and their community partners participated in a landmark, three-day convening, “Inside & Out: The Humanities and Mass Incarceration.” Each of the more than 150 attendees had something powerful and unique to contribute to the conversation, be it a lived experience of incarceration, experience with grantmaking or college-in-prison programming, a creative practice, a deep knowledge of the criminal legal system, or an abiding passion for the role of humanities in society. Everyone left with a renewed sense of purpose, a feeling that we are not alone in doing this work, and a need to continue the conversations and expand the work being done in this area.

Continuing the Conversation

2024 Convening Social Media Tile Web Assets

Envisioning Justice Grants

Grantmaking is a critical component of Envisioning Justice. Through the Envisioning Justice grants program, Illinois Humanities partners with groups throughout the state to use the arts and humanities to spark statewide conversations about the impact of mass incarceration, envision community-based solutions, and facilitate healing. 

Envisioning Justice offers two grant opportunities: Grants of up to $5,000 are available to individuals; Grants of up to $10,000 are available to organizations and collectives.

Envisioning Justice RE:ACTION

Curriculum Guide

The Envisioning Justice RE:ACTION Curriculum Guide is a major collaborative effort between Illinois educators, curriculum designers, artists, humanists, and Illinois Humanities. Designed by teachers for teachers, the guide contains twelve Illinois State standards-aligned lessons (in 9th-12th grade Social Studies, English/Language Arts, and Fine Arts) that prompt teachers and students to learn about and reflect upon the impact of mass incarceration on our state. Together, these lessons support our students in exploring the meaning of freedom, imagining the possibilities for transformative justice, and considering the ways mass incarceration reverberates across all families, generations, and communities.

We invite you to spend some time with these lessons on your own and with other educators — and then we invite you to try them out in your classrooms! If and when you do, we'd love to hear from you: education@ilhumanities.org.

Download the guide

EJ Reaction Curriculum Guide Cover
Virtual Exhibition

Browse dynamic works of visual art, creative writing, music, film, scholarship, and more in Envisioning Justice RE:ACTION, an interactive virtual exhibition and Activation Kit created by Illinois artists and humanists to deepen our understanding of our punitive criminal legal system and its personal, local, and global impacts. Experience their work and put what you learn into practice in the Activation Kit, with more than a dozen prompts to lead you through real-world activities to question our relationships to the carceral state, encourage healing, and share how you envision justice.

Visit the exhibition

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Tea Project (Aaron Hughes and Amber Ginsburg)
Reparations Now! | The Dynamo and The Black Box

Events

Stay Tuned for Upcoming Events

More Events

Explore Past Programs

View highlights from recent virtual programs on our YouTube channel.

Illinois Humanities on YouTube

Visions of Justice: A 7-part video series about the impacts of the carceral state on 7 Illinois communities (2021). Watch the full series on YouTube.

Rapid Response: A virtual event series featuring curated performances and presentations by artists and advocates (2020-2021). Watch the full series on YouTube.

Resources

Envisioning Justice RE:ACtion Curriculum Guide (2024)

This guide, written by teachers for teachers, contains twelve Illinois State standards-aligned lessons (in 9th-12th grade Social Studies, English/Language Arts, and Fine Arts) that prompt teachers and students to learn about and reflect upon the impact of mass incarceration on our state. Together, these lessons support our students in exploring the meaning of freedom, imagining the possibilities for transformative justice, and considering the ways mass incarceration reverberates across all families, generations, and communities.

Download the Guide

The Envisioning Justice RE:ACTION Workbook (2023)

The RE:ACTION Workbook includes 10 unique activities designed especially for incarcerated individuals, with step-by-step instructions that invite individuals and pairs to start conversations, learn from one another, foster healing, and share how they envision justice. Created by and for people with lived experience of incarceration, the Workbook was built from the conviction that art, writing, and shared conversation have the power to create change. View the Workbook and request printed copies on the RE:ACTION website. 

View the Workbook

Envisioning Justice RE:VISION Companion Guide (2020)

Created as a companion to the 2020 program, Envisioning Justice RE:VISION, viewable above, the companion guide offers resources, inspiration, and additional readings curated by the Envisioning Justice team and our collaborators. 

Download

Contact Us

Tony Pizarro
Program Manager

ejustice@ilhumanities.org
(312) 374-1565

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