being there

being there

Who is there for you when you’re in the system and need support?

anonymous artspeak participants

sojournersojourner truth

Right here is Sojourner Truth and my mom, together. The words inside her head is strong and loving, and they both are like that.


I got sweet, my mom’s sweet to me, and sweet to a lot of people.


Mine is my cousin that had passed away. He had dreds, too.


I was going to do my mom, but then I had a change of thought. I just did whatever. Inside the head I put loving.


This is supposed to be my mom…funny, my mom is real funny, she always be funny.


My dude on the inside of his head it say money, ‘cause I like money …he just cashed out, Gucci. With a peacock on his head, cause that’s what dudes do, they go peacocking when they tryin’ to find they ladies.


Even thought this looks sort of crazy, it’s supposed to be my mom. Inside the head I put proud, because she’s a very proud woman, and I used the Packers cloth cause that’s her favorite team. This is supposed to be her crown cause she’s a queen.


The word inside is persistent, cause even with all the stuff that happened to me, my mom, she kept trying to get me on the right path  and stuff, she never gave up. Even when it got very bad, she’s always been very persistent that way.




Teens in the system reflect on what it feels like to be incarcerated.

anonymous artspeak participants


I just wrote the word black, and then covered my paper in black, because I felt like I was in the dark, yeah, felt depressed, shit. I felt shitty cause you couldn’t do nothin’ now, I was locked up. Police, police yank ya, so, mm hmm.


I really didn’t know what to do, really. I just drew a rock, and just painted a picture of how I feel today. You know I feel depressed, really, for I’m a rock basically, or I’m under a rock. So I just did how I feel today…I’m not very happy today, feel depressed.


I got a bloodshot eye here, cause I guess whenever I get angry my eyes get bloodshot. I kinda got some what like the red coming into my eye, cause I guess like when I get mad I kinda, like the anger I guess takes over a little part of me, I kinda lose myself to the anger, so, I guess that’s what I got.


I don’t know what I was feeling, I just painted stuff. I painted this target, this target aiming at the opps (man, that’s cold!). I put a “RIP Folks” for my guys, my homies, got killed. And I put a cross that’s broke apart, and “F Da Police.” Then, this red, this red orange color is hard, I don’t know, I don’t know what I was feelin’…a curse on the mic.


I drew JRC [juvenile reception center], because it be depressin, and I hate sittin’, that’s all (love me).


Dis is a kind of feel, how I was feelin’ when I got locked up, feelin’ shitty, it was a bad night for me, two felonies in one night. And all I was thinkin’ about at the time, cause I was under the influence, so while I was in there, sittin’ in the holding cell ‘til like four or five in the morning, I was thinking of smoking me a pound of Lao, and like it was rainin’ on me. And everything about to change and I’m gonna face some factors that I never faced before, and it’s going to be hard for me, you know what I’m saying…it’s kind of like a projection of what I was feelin’ and thinking at the time, being what I wanted to do.

freedaguysfree da guys

I didn’t really do that much…there’s just some red, and it say “Free Da Guys.” Cause when I was locked up, I wasn’t really paying attention to myself, I mean I was in there and stuff, I wanted to get out and stuff…but I was always in there, like, not even talkin’ about free myself but talkin’ about free all my guys.

silent killerspaceship jail

I don’t know what I drew, I just drew it.
I guess this is like, they got like a spaceship jail
This is like a robot spaceship but it’s a jail
Then it’s like you look out the window, you see the stars and the moon
And then the sun is a mass of linkadinkin guys, a nuclear furnace
This is a box to freedom
And if you open a box, I guess there’ll be a passage out
Then this the Jewish star, and just like a circle, just a circle
That’s about it

notfreenot free

You know I’m angry cause I’m not free. And the green line, is for like, the police, you know they only want me for the money, cause you know, we a dollar sign. And the fire on the words, is like my anger and stuff, and ah, yeah.

chance2last chance

I just got me in court, last time. Tell me if I ever come back in this courtroom again, he’s gonna send me to the hills.



Justice-involved teens created avatars to represent themselves and protect their identities. Here are their stories about why they selected their avatars, along with the commentary of their peers.

anonymous artspeak participants


I’ve got this wolf…cuz I’m very protective of my inner circle, I guess (like a wolf pack king? Like a wolfpack gang?)…yeah (wolf gang over everything).


I don’t know what the pyramid really mean, I was just bored, but I got my initials. My name, my name to me is like (let’s see the picture!)…man!… I drew my name, my initials, and some lines. The lines to me means like never ending, so lines can go on and on (eternal?)…yeah. And my name is like the only thing that you really got in this world, is your name, so that’s why I put that there. And I got my favorite colors, orange and red (that was a good thing).

freemefree me

Being locked up! (Oh, he’s snide)… free me! (what I’d say!)



I put the incarceration word in the fire, cuz I feel that’s where it’s pulling me…

loyaltymusic  notes

I got dreds, and I like music…but I didn’t get to finish it.  The angel wings is for all the people that I know that have died in the past and that had hurt. (Let me see your wing) (Awesome!) (What I really liked about it is that it said loyalty) (Loyalty, loyal-T!)


I just drew whatever. I used two of my favorite colors, red and black.


This is the world, because this little orbit thing, right here, it’s me, going around in the world, all around. Me, goin’ around the countries, and all other states, travelin’… because I feel that one day, I’m goin’ to be the one to hold the world in my hand. I feel that I’m going to be in control, that I’m going to, you know, lead things. That’s my biggest dream, really, travelin’ around the world.

dope2silent killer

I just drew him cuz I didn’t really have my artistic expression, so this here is random. He just caged, like a animal in a cage, and he’s tryin’ to let the beast out. So, he can’t get out of the cage, so to relax his self, he smoked the dope.

thirdeyethird eye

This is my third eye, so I can see everything.