PBVALS Presents Conversation with Nicole Fleetwood and James “Yaya” Hough

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On Monday, Jan. 24, the School of Art’s Paul Brach Visiting Artist Lecture Series (PBVALS) presents a virtual conversation with visual artist James “Yaya” Hough and 2021 MacArthur Fellow, curator, and art historian Dr. Nicole Fleetwood. 

Through their visual, curatorial, and art historical works, Fleetwood and Hough have both brought vital contributions to the contemporary art world. Their practices challenge the systemic violence of mass incarceration and racial capitalism in the US. 

Hough, who spent his formative years developing his artistry while incarcerated within the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, is among the artists featured in Fleetwood’s groundbreaking curatorial project, Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, with a book of the same title published by Harvard University Press. The exhibition opened at PS1/MoMA in 2020, and is currently traveling between the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, where it will open in April. 

During the PBVALS conversation, Hough and Fleetwood will reflect on their individual works, as well as their collaborations, allowing the CalArts community to reflect upon these experiments, experiences, and conceptualizations. Participants may further consider the challenges Hough and Fleetwood offer to conventional art world values, criteria, participation, and organization, as they bring their practices rooted in care, justice, and an expansion of our fields and sense of what one’s artistic practice can achieve. 

The lecture was organized within the fall 2021 class Prisons & Systems & Structures, led by School of Art faculty Ashley Hunt, whose work is also included in the Marking Time exhibition and referenced in Fleetwood’s book.

Photo credit: John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration (2020), the exhibition’s accompanying publication, earned Fleetwood the National Book Critics Award in Criticism, the John Hope Franklin Publication Prize of the American Studies Association, the Susanne M. Glasscock Humanities Book Prize for Interdisciplinary Scholarship, and both the Charles Rufus Morey Book Award in art history and the Frank Jewett Mather Award in art criticism from the College Art Association. Fleetwood currently serves as the inaugural James Weldon Johnson Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at NYU.

James “Yaya” Hough

Hough lives and works in Pittsburgh. For more than a decade, Hough has been heavily involved with Mural Arts Philadelphia. Since working with Mural Arts, Hough has created more than 50 works that have been installed in Philadelphia, State Correctional Institution Graterford, and State Correctional Institution Phoenix. In 2019, as a part of a program supported by the Art for Justice Fund and Fair and Just Prosecution, Hough was selected to be the inaugural Artist in Residence at the Office of the District Attorney of Philadelphia.

PUBLISHED BY Taya Zoormandan

As digital content and social media producer, Taya enjoys lifting up the stories and accomplishments of CalArts' students, alums, and faculty. She fancies herself a visual artist but is really more of an overzealous collector of art supplies.

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