W/Collaborative Justice – Social Practice
Rachel's art practice is an investigation into ways to expand collective empathy. She attempts to create spaces with an expansive sense of belonging while holding a compassionate view on the human capacity for prejudice and blind spots.
She brings large groups of people together from diverse communities to create something larger than themselves. The connections made within and between communities through a project takes priority over a completed work.
Rachel's highly collaborative art practice most often shifts work beyond authorship.
Rachel G. Barnard is a social practice artist formally trained as an architect. In 2012 she founded Young New Yorkers (YNY), an arts diversion programs for teens being prosecuted as adult in criminal courts. To date over 600 young people have been sentenced to make art at YNY instead of jail or other adult sanctions. Most participants have their adult criminal cases dismissed and sealed.
Teens sentenced to YNY use art to become advocates for themselves and for criminal legal reform. Each program culminates in a participant-led public art project that addresses a criminal legal issue of their choice. Teens in the past have focused on local policing, economic disparity, solitary confinement, gun violence, and the local impacts of mass incarceration.
Teens invite the very criminal legal professionals involved in their sentencing to attend the public art projects – this in turn humanizes the culture of the courtrooms, the professional members of which possess discretionary power over each teen’s case outcome.
Barnard’s social art practice brings large groups of people together from diverse, and oftentimes adversarial, communities to create new spaces of belonging. As such the connections made within and between communities through a project take priority over a completed work.