CGLA's Art & Archives Exhibition is an exhibition that uses art, storytelling, and the humanities to highlight CGLA's legacy of transforming justice in the criminal legal system over the past 50 years. The exhibition considers the past, present, and future of CGLA’s legal aid within the context of the larger U.S. criminal legal system. Based on our decades of experience serving people negatively impacted by the criminal legal system, this new project intends to use the arts and humanities to devise strategies toward a truly just society.
Art & Archives seeks to disrupt and dismantle narratives around the criminalization of poverty and racial inequity experienced within our communities. Displayed throughout the three floors of CGLA’s office building, the exhibition intends to create more direct pathways of advocacy, opportunity, and wellness for those negatively impacted by the system. We use storytelling and the arts to help amplify the voices and perspectives of individuals and collectives who have experienced negative engagement with the criminal legal system or criminalization of poverty, trauma, race, or ethnicity.
Take a look below to see some of the artists that CGLA is proud to support!
Tonika Johnson is a photographer, social justice artist, and life-long resident of Chicago’s South Side Englewood neighborhood. Her work reveals injustices and inequities in real estate and land use practices, including historic preservation, and encourages us to reevaluate and create positive change. Her ongoing project, Folded Map, visually investigates disparities among segregated Chicago residents while bringing them together to have a conversation.
Jeffery Beckham, Jr. is an acrylic artist and community leader who serves as the CEO of Chicago Scholars, a nonprofit that helps low-income and first-generation students in Chicago. As a self-taught multi-disciplinary artist, Jeff uses his art to address social and economic justice issues to make an impact in Chicago, and his work has been on display around the world.
Vincent Brogan is an artist specializing in oil paintings. He is the founder of the art storefront, Invincible Art and he's been a freelance artist for over 30 years. Most of his original oil paintings were created during his time incarcerated, an experience he credits with broadening his creativity. He is currently expanding into other mediums, including digital art.
Arkee Chaney re-discovered a childhood passion for art while incarcerated. Many of his pieces are inspired by African tribal art and his work provides social commentary on slavery, poverty, and mass incarceration. Since his release, Chaney has been prolific in his chosen mediums of painting and ceramics. He is committed to telling his story and bringing awareness to social inequality.
Delisha Mckinney currently resides on the Westside of Chicago where she creates paintings of child-like perspectives and narratives. Inspired by Bill Watterson’s comics, and the late great Dr. Seuss, Delisha defiantly does it for the kids. Her evocative imagery of children and toys speaks of those experiences hidden in the adult psyche in detail.
Jasjyot Singh Hans is an illustrator from Delhi who is unendingly inspired by an explosive neon mix of fashion, music, and pop culture. He has a constant regard for things past and a voracity for all that is current. He studied animation film design at the National Institute of Design, Ahmedabad, and has an MFA in Illustration Practice from Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore. His clients include Google, The New York Times, The New Yorker, and NPR. His work chronicles themes of body image, sexuality, and self-love. He currently lives in Chicago, Illinois.
Austin Pope is a photographer currently residing in Chicago’s Bronzeville area. His work explores the role systemic racism plays in communities of color and their long-term consequences. His ongoing project, The (Mis)Education of Chicago focuses on the Chicago School Closing of 2013. Using a large format view camera, the project includes photographs of the schools themselves as well as the community the school closings impacted. In conducting his practice, Austin attempts to address the question of what it means to have scholastic institutions abandoned in communities of color and how he can capture the narrative of those impacted by them.
Merav lectures at UIC's Urban Planning and Policy Department, holding degrees from UIC and Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy for the Arts. As a Cornell Art, Architecture, and Planning grant recipient, she examines how Lathrop Homes' socio-spatial built design can promote dialogue between residents through art. She is the Director of Urban and Cultural Affairs at Fieldwork Collaborative Projects, increasing infrastructure engagement internationally through exhibited artworks. She directs projects and programs of art production to build cultural capital in Chicago via public space activations conceived through partnerships with civic administrators and local communities. Leveraging her interdisciplinary background, she approaches contemporary urban challenges with innovative perspectives.
Nia Easley is a Chicago-based artist, designer, researcher, and educator. Her practice incorporates a broad range of material engagement to wrestle with, confront, and record contemporary American life’s absurdity, violence, and beauty, rooted in our shared histories. Her work can be found in the Joan Flasch Artists' Book Collection, at DePaul University, Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, the University of Iowa special collections, and the Graphic Arts Collection at Princeton. She is a 2017 recipient of the ThreeWalls RaD Lab grant, a 2018 recipient of the ThreeWalls Outside the Walls grant, and a 2021 recipient of the Ideas Beyond Formats grant.