An exhibition for restorative justice

The Barnes Foundation and Mural Arts Philadelphia present Visions

2 minute read
Acrylic on canvas painting, a young woman to the right, painted in blue and black. Lined paper figurine cutouts on the left

Visions showcases original artwork by artists from Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Guild program, a paid apprenticeship that provides job skills and work experience to system-impacted young people and artists at the State Correctional Institution (SCI) Phoenix, a maximum-security prison for men in southeast Pennsylvania. The exhibition is presented by the Barnes Foundation and Mural Arts Philadelphia and will feature 23 pieces by 17 artists in the first-floor classroom of the Barnes Foundation’s Collection Gallery from July 5 through August 26, 2024.

Past, present, and future vision

With more than two million people confined in jails and prisons, the United States has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. When a person is released from prison, they are faced with discrimination and economic barriers as they try to secure housing, employment, and reconnect with their community. The parole and probation systems penalize people by sending them back to prison if they don’t succeed. Even though the US spends over 80 billion dollars a year to lock people up, it spends far less on reentry programs, and the work is mostly carried out by nonprofit organizations.

As someone who has spent much of my career working for nonprofits and with people who are rebuilding their lives after incarceration, I’m excited about the upcoming Visions exhibition.

The Barnes Foundation and Mural Arts Philadelphia launched a restorative justice initiative in 2018. Visions is the culmination of artwork created by this past spring’s cohort, who participated in art education classes at SCI Phoenix, or in the Barnes collection, taught by instructor Christine Stoughton and Bernard C. Watson director of adult education Bill Perthes, and in art-making workshops at Second State Press led by executive director Emma Flick.

I was delighted to speak with Perthes, who said, “When you visit the exhibition, what you’ll see is a range of works, some of which visualize aspects from the artist’s past, things that are important to them or things that have happened to them. Some of them envision their current circumstances, their experiences now. Others are images that project things that they hope to see or dream to see.”

The transformative power of art extends beyond the artist creating the work. It includes the viewer, who may be invited to reflect on humanity by experiencing artwork created by members of society whom we don’t get to see or hear from often enough.

At top: Keith Andrews’s Dear Dad, 2024. (Image courtesy of the artist, photographed by William Perthes.)

What, When, Where

Visions. Presented by the Barnes Foundation and Mural Arts Philadelphia. July 5, 2024, through August 26, 2024, at the Barnes Foundation, 2025 Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia. (215) 278-7000 or


The main entrance is wheelchair-accessible, and all floors are accessible by elevator.

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