The Art of Mass Decarceration: Bryonn Bain in conversation with Carey Young

To register please contact Luisa Summers, Arts Administrator at by 12noon on Thursday 25 February 2021. Details to join the event on Zoom will be sent to you by email.

Join us for a dialogue about the power of the arts as a tool for building movements for justice in the age of mass incarceration, and creative potential of dialogues between art and the legal sphere.
Bringing hip hop, spoken word poetry, theatre, and the blues into prisons in 25 US states and across three continents, Bryonn Bain will discuss the challenges and triumphs of his work over three decades to build bridges between carceral institutions – including Rikers Island, Sing Sing, Folsom, Whitemoor, and Brixton prisons – and institutions including UCLA, Columbia, Harvard, New York University, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Carnegie Hall.
Bain will also introduce two formerly-incarcerated poets, Jermaine Archer and Brandy Russell, who will read their work. This event will be chaired by Wolfson Creative Art Fellow Carey Young and is organised in collaboration with Beyond the Bars (Los Angeles) and Abolition Curriculum (ABC).

About Bryonn Bain:
Described by Cornel West as an artist who “…speaks his truth with a power we desperately need to hear,” Bryonn Bain is Brooklyn’s own hip hop theatre innovator, spoken word poetry champion, prison activist, actor, author and educator. After teaching the first hip hop and spoken word workshop in the Dramatic Arts at Harvard University, Bain began consulting Columbia University’s Center for Justice and School of Law as a Visiting Scholar, and founded the prison education program offering college degrees from NYU to men incarcerated in upstate New York. Bain is a Professor in the School of the Arts and African American Studies at UCLA, where he is also the director of the UCLA Prison Education Program and co-supervises the UCLA International Human Rights Law Clinic. Bain has worked with students, faculty and administrators across the university to develop UCLA’s Prison Education Program.

Wrongfully imprisoned during his second year at Harvard Law School, Bryonn successfully sued the NYPD, interviewed with Mike Wallace on “60 Minutes,” and wrote the Village Voice cover story – “Walking While Black” – drawing the largest response in the history of the nation’s most widely-read progressive newspaper. He is the creator and performer of the critically acclaimed theatre production Lyrics From Lockdown (executive produced by Harry Belafonte), and the author of four books including The Ugly Side of Beautiful: Rethinking Race and Prisons in America (Third World Press, 2012) and the forthcoming Critical Minded: Rebel Voices on Justice. Bain is developing a limited TV series based on his life and work with Emmy Award winner Rob Reiner (“A Few Good Men”) and Warner Brothers. Bryonn is also the host and co-producer of a new series for AMC/The Sundance Channel titled “We The Jury”, which reviews some of America’s most controversial courtroom cases.

Carey Young is current Wolfson Creative Arts Fellow, and is a visual artist based in London. She is represented by Paula Cooper Gallery, New York. Her artistic work since 2003 has focussed on law as subject and medium. Recently, she has created films and photographic series within carceral architectures and courthouses in order to tell new stories about law, identity, gender and power. Young has exhibited widely, including Tate Britain, Centre Pompidou (Paris and Brussels), New Museum (New York), Walker Art Center (Minneapolis) and Migros Museum (Zurich) amongst others. Young is Associate Professor in Fine Art at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, and Hon. Research Fellow in the School of Law, Birkbeck.