When resistance is an art form

I keep telling people that when you get around GNV by bike rather than car you tend to see things that might not, at first blush, grab your attention.

So it was that, on my way home from First Mag on Sunday, I came across this arresting display at 4Most Gallery, at the corner of SW 6th Street and SW 4th Avenue.

4Most Gallery is operated by the UF School Of Art & Art History. And this struck me as being a pretty gutsy display on the part of faculty and students whose university is increasingly coming under the authoritarian thumb of The DeSanitizer.

Kudos for that sort of rare courage. If art is not a form of revolution, it is nothing.

“Burn It Down: The Communications of Resistance” is an exhibit done in collaboration with Florida Prisoners Solidarity.

FPS is “a carceral abolitionist collective with membership expanding across the state, both inside and outside prisons. Their efforts are focused around the needs of all incarcerated individuals, their care networks, and the people in community with them.” This according to FPS’s web page.

Karen Smith, a founder of FPS, died in an auto accident in 2020. In celebration of her life, supporters sent a motorcade of 50 people to rally at Florida State Prison at Raiford.

FPS: “We chose this prison location due to it being the site of an effort Karen was focusing a lot of energy on at the time of her death, specifically because multiple activist contacts inside the state prison system, including Keith Soanes, had been moved there recently in retaliation for their correspondence with prisoner rights and abolitionist groups, like us at FPS.”

Prison reform, let alone abolition, is seldom a cause celebre in our “law and order” nation. That’s why the U.S. typically leads the world in incarceration rates.

On prominent display at the exhibit are letters from prisoners.

“Prisoners frequently write letters telling us they heard us, and how much it meant to feel they are not alone. It’s also one of the few ways to convey to the FDOC staff that they are not operating in complete secrecy just because of their remote locations; that people are indeed paying attention to their actions and documenting their abuses.” FPS.

There will be public viewings on March 21, from 7 – 8:30 p.m. And on March 29, from 7 – 8 p.m. Check it out.

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