“Artist/Poet for the People” Practitioner Fellows

The "Artist/Poet for the People" Practitioner Fellowship is co-hosted by the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture and the Pozen Center Human Rights Lab at the University of Chicago. As part of their fellowships, each practitioner completes a fellowship project of their own design that explores an aspect of the carceral system, curate their own series of public events, and participate in various community and university engagements throughout the year.  

Read more about this year's and past "Artist/Poet For The People" Practitioner Fellows below.

Practitioner Fellows are supported in part by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Centering Race Consortium, a partnership between Brown University, Stanford University, UChicago, and Yale University to center the study of race in the arts and humanities.


2022-23 “Artist For The People” Practitioner Fellows

Dorothy Burge
"Artist for the People" Practitioner Fellow Dorothy Burge is a fabric and multimedia artist and community activist who is inspired by history and current issues of social justice. She is a self-taught quilter who began creating fiber art in the 1990s after the birth of her daughter, Maya. Dorothy is a native and current resident of Chicago, but is descendent from a long line of quilters who hailed from Mississippi. Her realization that the history and culture of her people were being passed through generations in this art form inspired her to use this medium as a tool to teach history, raise cultural awareness, and inspire action. Dorothy received her Masters of Arts in Urban Planning and Policy and her Bachelors of Arts in Art Design, both from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is a member of Blacks Against Police Torture and Chicago Torture Justice Memorials; both are cultural collectives seeking justice for police torture survivors. Dorothy is also a member of the Women of Color Quilter’s Network, (WCQN), and her quilts were part of several WCQN exhibitions. Dorothy received a 2017 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation Artist as Activist fellowship and is an Envisioning Justice Commissioned Artist

Michelle Daniel Jones
"Artist for the People" Practitioner Fellow Michelle Daniel Jones, ABD is a fourth-year doctoral student in American Studies at New York University. Michelle’s dissertation focuses on creative liberation strategies of incarcerated people. Michelle’s fellowships include Beyond the Bars, Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History at Harvard University, Ford Foundation Bearing Witness with Art for Justice, SOZE Right of Return, Code for America and Mural Arts Rendering Justice. Together with incarcerated and formerly incarcerated colleagues, Michelle is publishing a history of Indiana’s carceral institutions for women forthcoming from The New Press. As an artist, Michelle finds ways to funnel her research into theater, dance, and photography.  Michelle co-authored the play “The Duchess of Stringtown,” which was produced in 2017 in Indianapolis and New York, and her artist installation about weaponized stigma, “Point of Triangulation,” ran in New York in 2019 and 2020 and in Philadelphia with a public mural in October 2021.


2021-22 Inaugural “Artist/Poet For The People” Practitioner Fellows

Renaldo Hudson
"Artist for the People" Practitioner Fellow Renaldo Hudson is an educator and community organizer whose work is focused on ending extreme sentencing in Illinois. He survived death row and life without the possibility of parole. He is a self-taught artist who learned to paint while on death row and has created a gallery of artworks. During his 37 years of incarceration, he obtained multiple certifications, an associate’s degree and a seminary bachelor’s degree. Renaldo is responsible for the groundbreaking Building Block Program, a transformational program run by incarcerated people within the Illinois Department of Corrections. He is currently the Education Director for the Illinois Prison Project. 

Dr. Tara Betts
"Poet for the People" Practitioner Fellow Dr. Tara Betts is the author of two poetry collections, Break the HabitArc & Hue, and the forthcoming Refuse to Disappear. In addition to her work as a teaching artist and mentor for young poets, she has taught a weekly poetry workshop at Stateville Prison and has also taught at several universities, including Rutgers University and University of Illinois-Chicago. Tara is Poetry Editor at Another Chicago Magazine and The Langston Hughes Review and the Lit Editor at Newcity

Truth and Beauty in the Hard Places 
Renaldo and Tara's fellowships culminated in an exhibition, Truth and Beauty in the Hard Places, at Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, January 27 - April 1, 2022. The works featured in Truth and Beauty excavated the brokenness and resilience evident in our shared humanity. View pictures from the closing reception on the Human Rights Lab Flickr.

Aritst Videos 
In the below artist videos created by our friends at On The Real Film, Renaldo and Tara reflect on their time as Practitioner Fellows and describe their artistic journeys, inspirations, and freedom dreams. We hope you enjoy watching them.