New Exhibit Explores Freedom with Those Sentenced to Die in Prison

Promotional graphic for How Are We Free exhibit launch
On February 9, the How Are We Free exhibit will be on display for one night only at the Institute of Contemporary Art


Press contact: Layne Mullett, LifeLines Project
(215) 821-8199,

New Exhibit Explores Freedom with Those Sentenced to Die in Prison

How Are We Free preview at Institute of Contemporary Art on February 9th

PHILADELPHIA, PA (February 6, 2018) On February 9, activists, artists, and community members will gather at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) for a one-night-only preview of a new exhibit titled How Are We Free. The exhibit explores the nature of freedom and confinement through creative collaboration between people who have been sentenced to die in prison and visual artists outside the prison walls. The event will take place from 6pm to 8pm at the ICA (118 S 36th street). Featured speakers include participating artists, who will be joined by their collaborators in prison via pre-recorded audio.

How Are We Free is designed to provoke dialogue about the impacts of Life Without Parole sentences (also known as Death By Incarceration) by exploring what actually creates the conditions for freedom, safety, and justice. “I think that art within the realm of social change actually sits as the foundation of new thinking,” said Terri Harper, who participated in the project and is serving a Death By Incarceration sentence at SCI Muncy. “It made me want to do something different, and it made me realize something new. I think that’s a critical thing that art can do – for social change, for people’s mental health, for families reconnecting or growing.”

The exhibit was produced by LifeLines: Voices Against the Other Death Penalty a multimedia project that works to challenge the idea of who is behind bars and why with the actual stories, vision, and analysis of those who have been sentenced to die in prison. Over the coming year, the LifeLines Project plans to travel with the exhibit to cities and towns across the state. The exhibit is constructed to be shown in gallery spaces, as well as at churches, community centers, conferences, and protests.

“Pennsylvania sentences more people to die in prison than almost any other state,” said LifeLines co-founder Emily Abendroth. “We hope that this artwork, and the stories that accompany it, can be a small part of helping people see the creativity, energy, and brilliance that we all lose when we condemn members of our communities to permanent irredeemability and exclusion.”

Seven visual artists from across the country participated in the project, partnering with seven incarcerated LifeLines members to conceptualize and create the work. The exhibit includes drawings, woodcuts, digital prints, and even a beaded portrait.

I am in awe of how anyone in prison can effectively be an activist; how they can be so committed to social justice by any means,” said Makeba Rainey, a Philadelphia-based artist who participated in the project. “I think that we can all learn a lot about resilience, commitment, and perseverance when there are few to no tools available.”

The participating artists are: Makeba Rainey (Philadelphia), Noelle Lorraine Williams (New Jersey), Matice Moore (Baltimore), Alma Sheppard-Matsuo (Philadelphia), Gb Kim (Brooklyn), Robin Markle (Philadelphia), and Kate DeCiccio (Washington DC). Their collaborators from inside the prison walls are Clinton “Nkechi” Walker, Terri Harper, Felix “Phill” Rosado, Avis Lee, David “Dawud” Lee, Marie “Mechie” Scott, and Charles Boyd.


LifeLines: Voices Against the Other Death Penalty is a media project conducted across the prison walls to highlight the voices and analysis of those serving Death By Incarceration sentences, more commonly known as Life Without Parole. More at