People's Paper-Co-op

For the past 18 months, the Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) and the People’s Paper Co-op (PPC) have partnered in creating client art as part of the PLSE’s Criminal Record Expungement Project (CREP) clinics. While CREP lawyers, grads and volunteers are pulling up criminal records, assessing eligibility and triggering first steps of expungement, the PPC has been taking physical copies of those records and with clients, shredding and pulping them.

New paper is made from old records, upon which clients write what they are and what their future is without the millstone of a record and its associated barriers to entry into work, housing and education. A Polaroid or digital snap of the client accompanies the testimony. Fantastic artistic strategy.

The result is a massive “quilt” of such testimonies — a detail is shown above and the collection is shown below hanging behind a speaker addressing a PPC event.

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NEW YORK, TOMORROW

The People’s Paper Co-op has been selected to be part of the New Museum’s Ideas City Festival this weekend. It’ll be displaying the quilt and talking about the project. Representatives of PPC and PLSE will be in the PPC Mobile Studio parked in front of the New Museum tomorrow, Saturday May 30th, from 12-6pm.

If you are interested in the intersection of art and legal advocacy on behalf of those with criminal records stop by!PPC and PLSE’s collaboration was one of 110 projects chosen to represent how artists are responding to changing urban spaces.

I’ve sung the praises of PLSE before. PPC was co-founded by friends of the blog Courtney Bowles and Mark Strandquist. Below is a small selection of images from the workshops and PPC events that Bowles and Strandquist have carried out during their SPACES residency at the Village of Arts & Humanities in Philadelphia.

PLSE and PPC’s work has been featured in Philadelphia InquirerWall Street Journal, NBC and City Paper, to name a few.

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