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Facing Mass Incarceration One Stitch at a Time

‘Life Without the Possibility of Parole’ by Dorothy Burge
Photo: Courtesy of Illinois Humanities

Bronzeville artist Dorothy Burge, 64, who comes from a line of seamstresses, crafts quilts that serve as searing memorials to victims of America’s criminal justice system. Life Without the Possibility of Parole (pictured) is one of several she is contributing to Envisioning Justice, an Illinois Humanities group show exploring how mass incarceration affects Chicago communities (August 6 to October 12 at Sullivan Galleries). It depicts Alice Kim, the Director of the Human Rights Practice at the University of Chicago’s Pozen Family Center, protesting the life-without-parole sentence of Renaldo Hudson, who has served 36 years so far for a murder he committed at 19. “I’m trying to look at what issues need to be addressed if we really want to have a just America,” Burge says. “Teenagers getting life sentences is something people need to know about.”

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