a color filled painting featuring a man standing at the center surrounded by paintings and drawings in an art studio
San Quentin Arts in Corrections Art Studio, 2008
Acrylic on canvas

Ronnie Goodman, Courtesy of William James Association

The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture is the current destination for the acclaimed exhibition, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration curated by Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood. Marking Time explores the impact of the US prison system on contemporary visual art. This exhibition, presented across three galleries —Latimer, Exhibition Hall, and Media Gallery— highlights artists who are or have been incarcerated, alongside artists who have not been incarcerated but whose practices expose aspects of the carceral state. Seen together, their works reveal how punitive governance, predatory policing, surveillance, and mass imprisonment impact millions of people. Forty artists appear in Marking Time, including Cedar Annenkovna, American Artist, Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter aka Isis Tha Saviour, Sara Bennett, Kristina Bivona, Conor Broderick, Keith Calhoun & Chandra McCormick, Susan Lee-Chun, Daniel McCarthy Clifford, Tameca Cole, Larry Cook, Russell Craig, Halim Flowers, Henry Frank, Gwendolyn Garth, Maria Gaspar, Dean Gillispie, Ronnie Goodman, Gary Harrell, James "Yaya" Hough, Ashley Hunt, Jesse Krimes, William B. Livingston III, Mark Loughney, Ojore Lutalo, C.A. Massey, George Anthony Morton, Ndume Olatushani, Jesse Osmun, Jared Owens, Kenneth Reams, Rowan Renee, Gilberto Rivera, Billy Sell, James Sepesi, Sable Elyse Smith, Todd (Hyung-Rae) Tarselli, Jerome Washington, and Aimee Wissman.

Dr. Fleetwood references the Schomburg Center’s collections in her companion book of the same name, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration. An important organization in the proliferation of prison art programs, whose organizational papers and letters are in the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Books division, was the Black Emergency Cultural Coalition (BECC), organized in the late 1960s by Benny Andrews and a host of artists active in the Black Arts Movement. Dr. Fleetwood writes, “the BECC’s mission hinged on a belief in art as a tool of revolution and on an idea of healing that was generated by Attica prisoners in their manifesto.”

Art made in prisons is crucial to contemporary culture, though it has been largely excluded from established art institutions and public discourse. Marking Time aims to shift aesthetic currents, offering new ways to envision art and to understand the reach of the carceral state on life today. The exhibition is curated by Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood, James Weldon Johnson Professor of Media at NYU, 2021 MacArthur Fellow, NYPL Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center Fellow and 2007 Schomburg Center Scholar in Residence with support by exhibition coordinator Steven G. Fullwood, Novella Ford, Associate Director of Public Programs and Exhibitions at the Schomburg, and the assistance of graduate researchers Eva Cilman and Xavier Hadley. 

The exhibition will be accompanied by a dynamic series of public programs, performances and education initiatives organized with several community partners. 

The exhibition debuted September 17, 2020, at MoMA PS1 and was organized by Fleetwood with assistant curators Amy Rosenblum-Martín, Jocelyn Miller, and Josephine Graf. 


Press Release


Featured Artwork in Marking Time

a color filled painting featuring a man standing at the center surrounded by paintings and drawings in an art studio

Ronnie Goodman, Courtesy of William James Association

San Quentin Arts in Corrections Art Studio, 2008
Acrylic on canvas
Man in white t-shirt with khaki pants and mustard colored workboots kneels in front of a painted canvans backdrop of a city skyline

Larry Cook

The Visiting Room #4
Digital print
Black and white charcoal sketch of a women's profile

George Anthony Morton

Mars, 2016
Graphite and white chalk on paper
Artist George Morton working with portrait sitter
Artist George Anthony Morton working with a portrait sitter
Grid of six color photos featuring women in rooms

Sara Bennett

Images from two series:
Looking Inside: Portraits of Women Serving Life Sentences
Life after Life in Prison: The Bedroom Project

Exhibition Tours

Group of diverse people on a tour of an exhibition with black text on a white wall that reads Marking Time: Art In the Age of Mass Incarceration

Free 45-minute tours of the Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration exhibition will take place on select Mondays at 11 AM and 12:30 PM. The tour is limited to the first 15 people who sign up. Current tour dates are June 12, June 26, July 10, and July 24. Additional dates will be added. Registration available here.

While you’re here! Explore the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture—founded in 1925 and named a National Historic Landmark in 2017—is one of the world’s leading cultural institutions devoted to the research, preservation, and exhibition of materials focused on African American, African Diaspora, and African experiences. Also, visit the Schomburg Shop or shop online at schomburgshop.com.

Free Talks & Programs

Black and white charcoal sketch of a women's profile
Mars, 2016
Graphite and white chalk on paper

George Anthony Morton


Tuesday, May 23, 2023  |  1 PM  | Latimer Gallery

Join us for a conversation with artist George Anthony Morton. During his nine years in federal prison, Morton focused on portraiture by studying the “Old Masters” of pre-nineteenth-century Europe, using his research as a way to manage penal time and as a rebuke to his punitive sentence. While on parole, Morton was accepted to the Florence Academy of Art, which emphasizes classical European aesthetic traditions. His painting Mars (2016) is inspired by Portrait of Juan de Pareja (1650) by Diego Velázquez; Juan de Pareja was a notable painter who was enslaved by Velázquez and is the current subject of the exhibition Juan de Pareja: Afro-Hispanic Painter, on view at The Met featuring items from the Schomburg's collections. Come early to experience Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration in all three galleries and hear from Morton about his process and influences on his artwork.





Monday, May 1, 2023  |  5 PM - 9 PM

Experience Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration in all three galleries and stay for a timely artist and curator talk and an immersive musical performance.

5:30 PM Book Signing with Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood, author of "Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration." Books will be available for purchase from the Schomburg Shop.

7:00 PM Curator Introduction and Artist Talk featuring Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood, artists Gwendolyn Garth, Ndume Olatushani, Gilberto Rivera, and Sable Elyse Smith moderated by Marking Time Exhibition Coordinator, Steven G. Fullwood

8:00 PM ECHOES | GESTURES | ABOLITION, live performance of "Second to Last" featuring composer, musician and scholar Kwami Coleman and percussionist Shakoor Hakeem



FROM THE ARCHIVE | Between the Lines: Marking Time by Nicole Fleetwood with Elizabeth Hinton

Monday, September 21, 2020

Revisit the September 2020 conversation between curator Dr. Nicole R. Fleetwood and historian Dr. Elizabeth Hinton discussing Fleetwood’s book, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration. The book is based on interviews with artists currently and formerly incarcerated, prison visits, and the author’s own family experiences with the penal system. Presented in partnership with NYPL, The Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers.



FROM THE ARCHIVE | Between the Lines: Chasing Me to My Grave by Winfred Rembert

Conversation with Patsy Rembert, Erin I. Kelly, and Nicole R. Fleetwood

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Winfred Rembert (1945-2021) was an artist from Cuthbert, Georgia. In 1970, while Rembert was in prison and doing forced labor near Turner County, GA, he met his future wife Patsy Rembert. It was Patsy who first convinced her husband to pursue art seriously, and to tell his life story visually, using the leather-tooling skills he had learned in prison. His paintings on carved and tooled leather have been exhibited at museums and galleries across the country, and compared to the work of Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, and Horace Pippin. Rembert was honored by the Equal Justice Initiative in 2015, awarded a United States Artists Barr Fellowship in 2016, and is the subject of two award-winning documentary films: All Me and Ashes to Ashes. Chasing Me to My Grave presents Rembert’s breathtaking body of work alongside his story, as told to philosopher Erin I. Kelly.




Research the Schomburg Collections

Black Emergency Cultural Coalition Records, 1971-1984 | Sc MG 399

Black Emergency Cultural Coalition Inc. (BECC) was organized in January 1969 by a group of African American artists in response to the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Harlem on My Mind exhibit, which omitted the contributions of African American painters and sculptors to the Harlem community. Members of this initial group that protested against the exhibit included several prominent African American artists, including Benny Andrews and Clifford R. Joseph, cofounders of the BECC. The primary goal of the group was to agitate for change in the major art museums in New York City for greater representation of African American artists and their work in these museums, and that an African American curatorial presence would be established. In 1971 the work of the Coalition grew to include the creation of an Arts Exchange program in correctional facilities. This program arose in response to major riots at the Attica correctional facility in New York. The BECC was stirred by the prisoner's demands for rights and justice. The first class in September 1971 was held at the Manhattan House of Detention.  (Source: Finding Aid)

Black Voices From Prison | Sc 810.8-K

Black Voices from Prison is a collection of poetry by Etheridge Knight and other inmates of Indiana State Prison with an introduction by Roberto Giammanco. Etheridge Knight (April 19, 1931 – March 10, 1991) was a poet associated with the Black Arts Movement, who served an eight-year-long sentence after his arrest for robbery in 1960. His debut collection of poems was titled Poems from Prison and his follow up, Black Voices From Prison was originally published in Italy under the title: Voci negre dal carcere.

Book List


Special thanks to MoMA PS1; American Friends Service Committee’s Prison Watch Program; Center for Transformative Action, Cornell University; Commonwealth and Council, Los Angeles; Independent Curators International (ICI); JTT, New York; Justice Arts Coalition; Malin Gallery, New York; Ohio Justice and Policy Center; Prisoner Express; William James Association; Women on the Rise!; and The Fleetwood Family. 


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