Opening: Free Your Mind— Art & Incarceration in Michigan

April 14, 2023 @ 7:00 pm - 10:00 pm
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Admission: $10 suggested donation. Free for MOCAD Members.

Join us as we open our Spring + Summer exhibitions and celebrate all the artists. We are excited to have artist and musician Sterling Toles share new music composed to accompany the Sydney James exhibition, A Girl Raised in Detroit. A mainstay in Detroit’s cultural scene, Toles will also provide the soundtrack for the rest of the evening.



APRIL 14 – SEPTEMBER 3, 2023



MOCAD is proud to partner with the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum and the Michigan Justice Fund to present the timely exhibition, Free Your Mind: Art and Incarceration in Michigan. Making art can be a transformative experience helping us to confront and address some of the most pressing issues of our time. Art shifts how we see and understand the world around and within us. Free Your Mind  invites us to consider these qualities of art while also grappling with the effects of the carceral system. The presentation of this exhibition in Detroit is especially crucial considering the construction of the new Wayne County jail.

Currently, the United States incarcerates approximately 2.2 million people. In Michigan, there are roughly 33,000 residents serving time in the prison system. Working with a coalition of more than a dozen organizations, Free Your Mind  showcases the inner worlds of incarcerated individuals and the fundamental issues that shape conversations around incarceration today. The exhibition centers key topics of inquiry around incarceration in Michigan – length of sentencing and prison overcrowding, the impact on women and youth, and the dangers of COVID-19.

This exhibition aims to cultivate a better understanding of how incarcerated individuals’ growth is linked to our society’s broader health. Free Your Mind  features artists, poets, and storytellers of outstanding achievement. The majority of these artists are either currently or formerly incarcerated. Their experiences invite us to consider art-making’s role in prisons as a liberating force. The artworks also ask us to approach the subject with an open mind and empathy.

Image: Rafael De Jesus, The Way It Is, 2014. Acrylic on canvas. Courtesy the collection of Janie Paul.

Free Your Mind: Art and Incarceration in Michigan  is organized by the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University and curated by Steven L. Bridges, Senior Curator and Director of Curatorial Affairs, and Janie Paul, Senior Curator and Co-founder, Annual Exhibitions of Art by Michigan Prisoners, a project of the Prison Creative Arts Project at the University of Michigan. It is presented at MOCAD with support from the Michigan Justice Fund at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.


April 14, 2023
7:00 pm - 10:00 pm




4454 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48201 United States
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