These three artists are taking on the crisis of mass incarceration

thanks to their performance-based curriculum

For the past four years, artists Melanie Crean, Sable Elyse Smith, and Shaun Leonardo have been working with a group of people between the ages of 16 and 25 entangled in the court system.

Rather than face the typical punitive measures, these young people were directed by the courts to the non-profit art residency Recess for an eight-week alternative to incarceration program. The group developed a performance-based pedagogical curriculum while simultaneously creating the film Mirror/Echo/Tilt inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’s Don Quixote.

Mirror / Echo / Tilt is a collaborative project between artists (Melanie Crean, Shaun Leonardo, Sable Elyse Smith), educators and individuals affected by the justice system. Taking the form of video, performance, text, archive, and curriculum, the work envisions new language around the way we engage mass Incarceration and inserts counter-narratives into the dominant media landscape, which commonly alienates and criminalizes black and brown bodies.”