Grantee Cohort Spring 2018
Location Philadelphia, PA
Russell Craig is a self-taught Philadelphia-based artist. Craig became involved in Mural Arts Philadelphia’s Restorative Justice Program and later joined the organization to paint murals in under-resourced communities. He continues to collaborate with Philadelphia Mural Arts as a muralist, teaching art to court-involved youth. Craig’s work has been featured in exhibitions focused on social justice issues, including Truth to Power as part of the 2016 Democratic National Convention; State Goods: Art in the Era of Mass Incarceration, a collaboration with the Center for Justice at Columbia University; and Blood, Sweat, and Tears, his first solo exhibition, at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. Craig has served as a Philadelphia Reentry Think Tank Fellow and is a board member of Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity. He has been a featured speaker on panels focused on the criminal justice system. Most recently, he was featured in Aperture Gallery as part of its magazine and exhibition Prison Nation.
Supported by Art for Justice, Russell released Dark Reflections, a series of portraits of people most impacted by issues of the criminal justice system. He chose subjects for these portraits as they appear in national headlines or trend on social media platforms, intentionally leaving the portrait series open-ended to highlight the urgency in addressing criminal justice failures.
Russell is also the recipient of two Art for Justice Activating Art and Advocacy grants. For the first he is partnering with James “Yaya” Hough to leverage the ‘Willie Lynch’ letters as a blueprint to create a short film and graphic novel exploring the historical roots of mass incarceration. Their art will spark conversations on political engagement among people who are directly impacted by the carceral system.
With the second grant, Russell will join with grantee partner Mural Arts Philadelphia to expand his mural Crown onto the east and west sides of the Municipal Services Building as part of Philadelphia’s reconciliation and police reform process. Crown was born of the on-going national movement for racial justice and is a daily reminder for our public servants and elected officials of the human impact of their decisions.