jackie sumell

New Orleans

jackie sumell facilitates unexpected exchanges between persons subjected to indefinite solitary confinement and those of us living on the “outside.” Her project, Solitary Gardens, enlists communities to create public, green spaces designed by men and women currently in solitary, while simultaneously offering workshops and curricula for all of us to envision a landscape without prisons.


Bio: Jackie Sumell is a multidisciplinary artist and prison abolitionist inspired most by the lives of everyday people. Her work has been successfully anchored at the intersection of activism, education, and art for over a decade, and it has been exhibited extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe, with its distinct inclusion in several Biennials. She has been the recipient of multiple residencies, fellowships and awards including the Soros Justice Fellowship, Akademie Schloss Solitude, Eyebeam Project Fellowship, Nathan Cummings Foundation, InContext-3 (Ireland), and Center for Contemporary Art’s A-I-R (Poland). Sumell’s collaboration with Herman Wallace (a prisoner-of-consciousness and member of the “Angola 3”) was the subject of the Emmy Award-Winning documentary Herman's House (2013). Sumell's work with Herman has positioned her at the forefront of the campaign to end solitary confinement in the United States. An ardent public speaker, she has lectured in colleges and universities across the world, including Rutgers University; University of Oregon; Tulane University; Loyola Law School; University of Limerick and ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany. Sumell has appeared on Democracy Now, CNN, ABC News, and NPR. She received a B.S. from the College of Charleston, and M.F.A. from Stanford University. 

Photo: Leslie McKellar