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Art from the Inside: pop-up exhibit and online panel conversation, in partnership with the Just Education Collaborative at the Weisman Art Museum

Wed., March 23, 5 – 6:30 p.m.
This online event is free and open to anyone, but you must register to receive the Zoom link

Tune in for a conversation with Art from the Inside (AFTI) founder Antonio Espinosa about the transformational power of art, hosted by Just Education and the Weisman Art Museum. AFTI is a project that creates space for incarcerated artists to share their creative work and their voice. This event includes a screening of AFTI’s documentary, Transformation (2021), featuring works of incarcerated artists, followed by a roundtable conversation on Zoom, exploring where we can take action to promote the creative talents of these and other artists and how we can reverse the ripple effects of incarceration in Minnesota. This discussion will be facilitated by Ingrid Nuttall (Just Education co-founder), with participation of Antonio Espinosa (AFTI founder), Elaine Auyoung (Donald V. Hawkins Professor and Associate Professor of English), and AFTI artists Ricardo Dominguez and Jennifer Marx.

Register now on Zoom >>

(In Person) Pop-up exhibit at WAM, March 23 – 27: Visit a pop-up exhibit connected to this event which will be on view at WAM March 23 – 27, 2022. The exhibit will feature paintings, drawings, craftwork, and sculptures of artists living in Minnesota’s correctional facilities. 

About the speakers

Antonio Espinosa is pictured in a white shirt and black jacket with a stylish black fedora. Antonio Espinosa is the founder, creator and brains behind Art from the Inside. He is a recently retired correctional officer with over 19 years of experience at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Stillwater, Minnesota. He launched and co-facilitated a men’s support group for offenders in Stillwater prison called Stand Up. Antonio has coordinated cultural events for the offenders and is a role model to his peers. He is committed to ensuring a safe and positive environment focused on uplifting and healing people. In 2021, he was awarded a Bush Fellowship to create broader change for the incarcerated in Minnesota


Elaine Auyoung is Donald V. Hawkins Professor and Associate Professor of English at the University of Minnesota, where she is Affiliate Faculty of the Center for Cognitive Sciences. Her interdisciplinary scholarship focuses on psychological approaches to the arts. She is the author of When Fiction Feels Real: Representation and the Reading Mind, just released in paperback by Oxford University Press.


Ingrid Nuttall is the co-founder of Just Education, a creative collaborative funded by the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Advanced Study. She is a graduate student in the Humphrey Institute’s Master of Public Affairs program and works as the Director of the Office of the Registrar in Academic Support Resources. 



Jennifer Marx was born and raised in southern Minnesota.  She experienced an unstable and difficult childhood but found solace in creating art.  Jennifer learned to draw and paint from both her grandmother, who was herself an artist and art teacher, and her father. At age 30, Jennifer survived what should have been a fatal car accident.  Jennifer became addicted to the narcotic pain medication she was prescribed following reconstructive surgery.  When the prescription ran out, Jennifer turned first to using and then to selling street drugs to feed her addiction.   Eventually, Jennifer was caught selling drugs and was sentenced to 65 months in prison. “Art got me through prison,” Jennifer says.  At first art was her “hustle” – she would draw for fellow inmates to earn money to spend at the prison canteen.  Later, she used art in a therapy class to process and heal from trauma.  Through her participation in a Prison Fellowship program, Jennifer developed a relationship with God that infuses her art and allows people to feel the beauty of her art as much as she does. As Jennifer navigated the challenges of reentry into the community from prison, she did not feel she had time to create art.  But following a “serendipitous” connection between her employer and Art from The Inside, Jennifer believed, “God is telling me I need to take time for art still, and I’m going to listen.”  Jennifer hopes that by sharing her story through Art from The Inside, she “can be an inspiration.”


Ricardo Dominguez is an artist and father who was born in Tacoma, Washington to Mexican and Spanish parents who relocated to St.Paul, Minnesota and settled on the city’s West Side. The neighborhood is predominantly Hispanic with a diverse community. This neighborhood is known for its vibrant art on the streets and sides of buildings. During his time incarcerated, he was consumed by his art and artistic expression. The escape it offered him remains indescribable. He continued to practice, got better, and learned what he liked about using colors. He also loves listening to music while creating art. Ricardo has always enjoyed working out and playing handball with friends. He remembers being an artist in grade school. His grade school janitor can confirm this—he cleaned a lot of Ricardo’s art off the school walls. Growing up, he loved the look of graffiti and how crazy they can make the letters look. The more he practiced it the more he loved it. Ricardo continues to learn every day.


Art from the Inside gives incarcerated artists the opportunity to express themselves through art—giving them a visual voice. AFTI will be exhibiting their art in the community with the hope to inspire community dialogue about the complexities of our criminal justice system. 


The Just Education Collaborative explores how the University can transform the collateral consequences of incarceration into opportunities for economic mobility, individual growth, and societal change, through research, and collaboration with scholars, advocates, state and county officials, and those currently impacted. In 2018, leaders from the Law School, Academic Health Center, Weisman Art Museum, and other University stakeholders began to explore how the University of Minnesota can reverse the ripple effect of incarceration by creating a more just approach to supporting citizens with criminal records and their communities. Through funding from the Institute of Advanced Studies, the goal of this collaboration is to identify what the University of Minnesota, as a major and influential academic institution, can do to address the crisis.