Exploring new forms of social justice through art


Poetic Justice Group

Poetic Justice Group

Founded spring of 2019 by artist Ekene Ijeoma, PJG researches social, political, and environmental issues and develops multimedia works using poetic and computational strategies. The group questions how we might create new modes and forms of justice that move beyond an unfair judicial system toward cultural systems of representation and action. How can we, as Sherrie Rabonitz once suggested, “create on the same scale as society has the capacity to destroy?” How can we create art at the scale of injustice? 

We’re answering these questions by creating artworks that are public, community-driven, multi-site, and networked. Our first body of work is a series of software-generated multimedia works that include themes such as global freedom, Black American thought, COVID in Black America, and language diversity in the US. They’re composed of crowd-sourced recordings from public audiences and archives that are remixed and live-streamed over the phone and online. A Counting, our first artwork to be released, has been presented by several museums in the U.S., including CAM Houston, CAM St. Louis, and MIT Museum. In early November, we premiered Black Forest, our multi-site participatory artwork as a living monument, urban forest, and story archive dedicated to Black lives lost to COVID-19 in the US.

Professor Ijeoma’s recent courses guide students through looking at environmental crises through the lens of the classical elements starting with fire and creating conceptual art and design proposals. His previous courses surveyed anti-Black racism in the US through a (literary) framework of the Bildungsroman. Guest lecturers in these courses have included artists John Akomfrah, Garret Bradley, Hugh Hayden, Tricia Hersey, and Hank Willis Thomas; journalists Topher Sanders and Linda Villarosa; environmental activist Marcus Franklin; anthropologist Dr. Ashanté M. Reese; public health specialist Professor Arline T. Geronimus; sociologist Professor Elijah Anderson; historian Dr. Cooper Owens; chef Omar Tate and more.