Carving Out Rights

Carving Out Rights from Inside the Prison Industrial Complex, Universal Declaration of Human Rights Portfolio

Carving Out Rights

Carving Out Rights from Inside the Prison Industrial Complex, Universal Declaration of Human Rights Portfolio



Edition Size



Foam Block, Screenprint


Cougar Cover






Chicago, IL, Stateville Prison, IL


Aaron Hughes, Hoofprint

$ 1,200.00

Out of Print

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Bucknell University

DePaul University

Smith College

St. Olaf College

Temple University

University of Connecticut (UCONN), Storrs

This provocative and powerful portfolio features 32 brilliantly crafted screen-prints (in a screen-printed enclosure) illustrating and presenting the texts from each article from the declaration. The artists ask essential questions of what it means to build a culture of human rights from below rather than institute rights from above. What happens when people denied their rights, begin to reimagine and carve them out once again? These prints and the accompanying book provide a passionate and challenging perspective on the relationship between mass incarceration in the United States and human rights. The piece is an exemplary manifestation of both primary research on the subject matter and creative strategies for public education and organizing.

As a tool to discuss the limits and ideals of human rights within a carceral state, a diverse group of artists at Stateville Prison, who struggle daily for their own human rights, created foam block prints of each article in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The process of drawing, carving and inking each print created the time and space for artists to critique and reflect on the ways the declaration is simultaneously aspirational, strategic, and fraught with the legacy of the violence of its founding states. For universal human rights to be relevant, it is essential that the most impacted people be heard and their vision of human rights centered. For the public portfolio, these block prints were converted to a screenprint edition. The prints are unnumbered.

This project was inspired by Meredith Stern’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights print project (the book version of is available through Booklyn) and developed in a class taught by Aaron Hughes through the Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project.

Dec. 10, 2020 – Jan 10, 2021
PO Box Collective, Chicago, IL
La Galerie Marquette, Madison, WI

Artwork by Carlos Josúe Ayala, Aryules Bivens, Jeffery Campbell, Alan “Wolf” Christensen, Darrell Wayne Fair, Salvador Herrera, Alex Koehler, Juan Luna, Charles McLaurin, Willie Moses McGee III, Rickey Lee Quezada, and Marshall William Stewart.

The portfolio comes with a trade book of the same name which offers a complete exploration of the larger “Carving Out Rights” project and includes texts by Text by Benny Rios Donjuan, Darrell Wayne Fair, Renaldo Hudson, Aaron Hughes, Alice Kim, Barbara Ransby, Christophe Ringer, Sarah Ross, and Meredith Stern, and poetry by Tara Betts, Eric Blackmon, Tongo Eisen-Martin, Martín Espada, torrin a. greathouse, Tyehimba Jess, Timothy Malone, Tony Medina, Zachary Meeks, Nikki Patin, Sonia Sanchez, and Courtney Wright