Statistics show that nearly one in two black women have a family member in prison. These women often experience isolation, face stigma and care for children and finances on their own. Essie Justice works to connect women with incarcerated loved ones to give and receive support, and empowers them to network, heal, and create social change to end mass incarceration. Through Essie programs, women teach each other to be leaders and advocates.
This painting depicts the hands of two women supporting and holding each other up, and holding up the future, represented by the hand of the child. The hands are posed in a triangular configuration, a shape of strength, and at the same time they are nestled and tender. The painting also talks about barriers, both obvious and subtle. There are the prison bars, which separate the hand of the incarcerated family member from the women and child; the black border around the edge of the painting, representing containment and isolation; and an invisible barrier that the hands press up against, representing the impact of profiling and mass incarceration.
Many thanks to hand models Tiana Jones, Grace McKendall, Little Hassan, J’remi Barnes, and Jamal Preston.