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201 W. Mifflin Street
Madison, WI

Artist-in-Residence Artists in Absentia


Featuring the writing, art, music, and dramatic work of inmates from Oakhill Correctional Institution in Oregon, WI, Artists in Absentiabrings the ideas of these men out from the walls of the prison and into dialogue with the community. This residency in absentia directly addresses the importance of engaging inmates’ voices in Dane County, where we experience the most racially disproportionate incarceration rates per capita in the U.S. The project seeks to provide a public space where the humanity of those we seldom see may be reflected in creative exchange between artists and audience.

Artists in Absentia calendar of events in the Bubbler room: 

THU 3/3  6–9PM Opening Reception

Local filmmaker Marc Kornblatt ( has produced a short documentary about the exhibit’s contributing artists and curators. Join us in the Bubbler Room for an opening reception featuring a screening of the film. Visitors will be encouraged to craft responses using various media, which we hope to share at Oakhill and on the exhibition website ( after the event.

WED 3/9  6–8:30PM America is Hard to See: A Drawing Workshop

Artists and non-artists! Writers and non-writers! We want you. In this workshop, we'll respond to a prompt that the artists at Oakhill Correctional Institution also used to inspire their work: the observation from the poet Robert Frost that "America is hard to see." What about it is hard to see? What do we picture in our mind's eye when we think of America? Using colored pencils, oil pastels, and ink, we'll play around with several prompts that help us envision parts of America that we haven't pictured before. We hope to share your responses and creations with artist-inmates at Oakhill after the workshop. Facilitators: Liz Scheer and Spring Greeney

SAT 3/19 1–3PM Drama for Social Justice Workshop 

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women, merely players." With this famous Shakespearean quote in mind, we invite you to join us for this energetic and exciting Drama for Social Justice workshop Saturday afternoon!  Geared towards participants of all ages, this workshop aims to provide an insight into the ways in which drama can enhance communication, break down barriers, and create scenarios in which its participants can rehearse and enact change. No prior experience necessary! Facilitator: Claire Mason

SAT 3/26 12–4PM Write a Letter to a Prisoner

Write a Letter to a Prisoner is a simple prompt. Profiles of current inmates from across the nation, paper, pens, stamps, and envelopes are provided and the community is asked to take thirty minutes to write a letter. The goal is to create an event where a positive exchange between a free person and an inmate occurs. The one-on-one correspondence allows for individuals to feel humanized and heard, with intentional and direct communication. Opening the lines of dialog between the two groups, free and not free, can be a life-changing experience. Facilitator: Benjamin Todd Wills

More information:

Drop-in hours: An organizer from the project will be present to share more about the exhibition and answer questions.

TUE 3/8 5–7PM (Spring Greeney)

TUE 3/15 5–7PM (Liz Scheer)

TUE 3/22 5–7PM (Sam Link)

TUE 3/30 3:30–5:30PM (Claire Mason)