The San Quentin Project: Nigel Poor and the Men of San Quentin State Prison

October 18, 2018–March 10, 2019
Bradley Family Gallery

This exhibition debuts Nigel Poor’s San Quentin Project and presents personal narratives about life inside prison through visual documents, photographs, and an acclaimed podcast. The project’s visual documents were made collaboratively by Nigel Poor (American, b. 1963) and the men incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, the photographs are from the prison’s archive, and the audio, from Ear Hustle, is a podcast featuring stories of life inside prison, shared and produced by those living it.

Begun in 2011, The San Quentin Project has evolved from Poor’s experience teaching visual literacy at the prison for the Prison University Project. Tracing the evolution of her social practice, from mapping exercises to essays and interviews, the work in this exhibition utilizes personal narrative to illuminate and counter common stereotypes the public might have about prison populations.

The San Quentin Project not only invites audiences to consider how images of prisoners have been codified, but also seeks to promote the critical reading of cultural codes and power structures inherent within visual images. Ultimately, the project hopes to raise awareness of the overwhelming benefits arts and humanities offer to incarcerated individuals and the communities they will re-enter. A three-day symposium, co-organized with Marquette University, will envision the role of the arts in criminal justice reform by inviting scholars and artists to Milwaukee to address these issues.

Organized by the Milwaukee Art Museum

Past Events

Symposium: The Milwaukee Model: Envisioning the Role of the Arts in Criminal Justice Reform

November 1–3, 2018

This initiative seeks to bring artists and experts from around the country together with groups working in Milwaukee to discuss how arts and educational programming might shift perceptions and attitudes about the criminal justice system and incarcerated individuals. All symposium events are free and open to the public, but advance registration is recommended.

Co-organized with the Haggerty Museum of Art at Marquette University

Sponsored by: Bader Philanthropies, Brico Fund, and Greater Milwaukee Foundation.
Community Outreach Sponsor: The Reva & David Logan Foundation
Media Sponsor: WUWM 89.7 FM—Milwaukee’s NPR

Download event program »
Watch playlist on YouTube »
Presenting Sponsors: Brico Fund The Reva & David Logan Foundation
Supporting Sponsors: Bader Philanthropies Milwaukee Art Museum's Friends of Art Milwaukee Art Museum’s Photography Council
Education Sponsor: Mastantuono & Coffee, S.C.
  • Unknown (American), Selections from the San Quentin Prison Archive, 1930s–1980s. Courtesy Nigel Poor & San Quentin State Prison Museum with thanks to Warden Ron Davis & Lieutenant Sam Robinson.