The Art Angle Podcast: Can Art Help End the Era of Mass Incarceration?

This week, we're joined by Rahsaan Thomas, a prisoner at San Quentin and co-host of the Ear Hustle podcast, to discuss art, empathy, and how he's working to change the system from the inside out.

Rahsaan Thomas, portrait © Peter Merts.

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join host Andrew Goldstein every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more, with input from our own writers and editors, as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.

Right now, more than 2 million people are living behind bars in prisons across America. California’s San Quentin Prison is currently at 117 percent capacity. And with the coronavirus pandemic running rampant, many prisoners are in immediate danger.

These problems are a major preoccupation of Rahsaan “New York” Thomas, the co-host of the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Ear Hustle podcast, co-founder of Prison Renaissance (which connects prisoners to people outside), contributor to multiple national news outlets, and staff writer at the San Quentin News.

Thomas has also just curated his first exhibition, “Meet Us Quickly: Painting for Justice From Prison,” an online exhibition on view at the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco.

He is also serving a sentence of 55 years to life in San Quentin.

On this week’s episode, Thomas calls in from San Quentin to discuss how art and empathy can transform perspectives on the penal system, from inside and out.

Listen above and subscribe to the Art Angle on Apple PodcastsSpotifySoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts. (Or catch up on past episodes here on Artnet News.)

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