Newport Art Museum (Photo provided by Newport Art Museum)

The Newport Art Museum will present a thought-provoking panel discussion on May 23, 2023, from 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm EST, exploring the intersection of mass incarceration, restorative justice, and the healing power of art. This event will take place in person at the Newport Art Museum and will be simultaneously live-streamed via Vimeo, ensuring broad accessibility.

The discussion aims to shed light on critical topics such as mass incarceration, restorative justice, the right of return, and the transformative role of the arts in empowering individuals and fostering healing within affected communities. This engaging conversation draws inspiration from the captivating work of Jesse Krimes, a distinguished artist featured in the exhibition Social Fabric: Textiles & Contemporary Issues.

Cristin Searles Bilodeau, Director of Programming at the Newport Art Museum believes that, “by delving into the profound societal issues surrounding the prison industrial complex and structural racism, this event provides a platform for creatives and attendees alike to envision a more compassionate and equitable future in terms of crime, punishment, and absolution.” she said, “The panelists will guide participants through this complex subject, examining it from both national and local perspectives, as well as exploring the systemic and individual dimensions”.

Dr. Francine Weiss, Director of Curatorial Affairs & Chief Curator at the Newport Art Museum, will lead off the conversation and will then be joined by participants Jesse Krimes, an influential artist renowned for his exploration of criminal and racial justice issues, Wendy Sawyer, the Research Director at the Prison Policy Initiative, and Cheryl Robinson, Board President of Turning Around Ministries in Newport. The discussion will be moderated by Cheryl Hatch, Newport Bureau Reporter for The Public’s Radio.

This event is free to attend, and while in-person participation is encouraged, RSVP is strongly recommended due to limited seating. To receive the live stream link, RSVP is required.

About the Panel
Jesse Krimes: An artist whose work explores societal mechanisms of power and control with a focus on criminal and racial justice. While serving a six-year prison sentence he produced and smuggled out numerous bodies of work, established prison art programs, and co-created artist collectives. After his release, he co-founded Right of Return USA, the first national fellowship dedicated to supporting formerly incarcerated artists. He also successfully led a class-action lawsuit against JPMorgan Chase for charging formerly incarcerated people predatory fees after their release from federal prison. Krimes’ work has been exhibited at MoMA PS1, Palais de Tokyo, Philadelphia Museum of Art, and the International Red Cross Museum. He was awarded fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Pew Center, Rauschenberg Foundation, Creative Capitol, and Art for Justice Fund. His work is in the collections of the Brooklyn Museum, Kadist Foundation, Bunker Artspace, and the Agnes Gund Collection.

Wendy Sawyer: Research Director at the Prison Policy Initiative, a national organization that conducts research to expose the broad harms of mass incarceration and to fuel advocacy campaigns for change. She is the author of numerous reports, including the organization’s most widely-referenced report, Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie, which provides a “big picture” perspective of mass incarceration in the United States each year. She has also authored or co-authored reports on the commercial bail bond industry, the impact of incarceration on community spread of COVID-19, youth confinement, the misuse of police and jails to respond to social problems, gender disparities in incarceration, and the financial burdens of probation. In addition to these reports, Wendy conducted the Prison Policy Initiative’s frequently-cited 50-state surveys of wages for prison labor and medical copays charged to incarcerated people, and she frequently contributes shorter briefings on a number of issues related to incarceration, community supervision, and criminalization.

Cheryl Robinson: Board Chair of Turning Around Ministries (TAM), a non-profit faith-based organization located in the Broadway area of Newport that has been providing community-based services to under-served or at-risk persons since 2005. In December of 2008, the TAM Day Center Service opened, a place where people can go Monday through Friday to procure extensive emergency and/or on-going services, including but not limited to housing, job training, food, and clothing. The Day Center also serves as a place where people can come to drink coffee, play cards or board games, watch television, or read books as an alternative to wandering the streets. Although our target populations are the homeless and formerly incarcerated persons, our services extend to anyone who presents a legitimate need.

Moderator: Cheryl Hatch: Newport Bureau Reporter for The Public’s Radio is a multi-lingual storyteller with a broad background in journalism as a reporter, photographer and educator with extensive international experience. Early in her career, Cheryl focused her camera and reporting on war, its aftermath an its effects on soldiers, their families and those caught in the crossfire, especially women and children. She has worked in Liberia, Somalia, Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Eritrea. In the winter of 2011-2012, she embedded with the 1/25 Stryker Brigade Combat Team 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry Regiment in Afghanistan.

Cheryl is a recipient of the Pew Fellowship in International Journalism at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. She documented the lives of women, including former fighters, in her project: A Luta Continua: Eritrean Women Defending National Borders and Defining Gender Boundaries. Her photographs have been exhibited worldwide, including at the Smithsonian in Washington D.C., the Sony Gallery in Cairo, Egypt and the Leica Gallery in Solms, Germany. Her work has also been published in newspapers and magazines, including Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, the San Francisco Chronicle and Paris Match.

About the Newport Art Museum
The Newport Art Museum was founded in 1912 on the belief that arts and culture have the power to bring diverse groups of individuals together, which ultimately promotes civic engagement and strengthens the social fabric of our communities. This core belief continues to guide the Museum’s direction today. The mission is to share a diversity of art and experiences that spark reflection, inspiration, discovery, and connection within our Newport community and beyond.

Located on three acres along Bellevue Avenue, the Museum’s galleries are housed in two historically significant buildings: the John N.A. Griswold House (completed in 1864, by architect Richard Morris Hunt) and the Cushing Memorial Gallery (completed in 1920, by Delano & Aldrich Architects). The galleries showcase over 600 contemporary regional, national, and international artists annually.

Art classes for all ages and experience levels are held in the Museum’s School studios. Teaching artists provide art education through robust community outreach initiatives.

Dynamic public programs connect the exhibition content with the community.

Newport Art Museum is a private 501(c)(3) charitable arts and education organization. For additional information visit or call 401-848-8200.

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