Eastern District hosts “Hope in Hard Times: Prisoner’s Art for Social Justice”

March 1-April 7, 2019
ArtsQuest’s Banana Factory Arts Center 23 W. 3rd St., Bethlehem
Mondays – Fridays 8:00 a.m.-9:30 p.m
. Saturdays & Sundays 8:30 a.m.-7:00 p.m.


Incarcerated individuals tell their stories through art in the thought-provoking exhibition Hope in Hard Times: Prisoners’ Art for Social Justice, an installation at that seeks to shed light on important questions about humanity and generate discussion about criminal justice system. The exhibition, which is presented by Art for Justice, The Moravian Church’s Eastern District, Moravian Seminary and ArtsQuest, runs March 1–April 7 in the Crayola Gallery of the Banana Factory, 25 W. Third St., Bethlehem.

“The Moravian Church’s Eastern District Church In Society Ministry Team was called by the 2016 District Synod to raise awareness about those who are imprisoned, per our Lord’s call in Matthew 25,” says the Rev. Janel Rice, pastor of Calvary Moravian Church in Allentown. “We identified engagement with art as a transformative way to see the humanity of the incarcerated and engage the church in recognizing and working toward the need for reform as illustrated by their art and stories.

Art for Social Justice seemed to be the perfect partner and a way to share the gift of art of the incarcerated with not only just the 14 Moravian churches in the Lehigh Valley, but the entire community,” Rice says. “We hope that this exhibit will begin or continue a conversation between our faith and our practices of love and justice in the lives of the incarcerated and in the movements for criminal justice reform. This exhibit will remind us of our shared humanity, incarcerated and free, while asking where our own struggles for reform and justice can be found.”

Art for Justice (www.artforjustice.org), a local non-profit committed to using art from local prisoners to promote dialogue and find ways to reform the criminal justice system, made an ideal partner to accomplish these goals.

“Art can tell stories about the human experience through the lens of an individual deep within the criminal justice system – or prison. Viewing the art can open conversations about collective justice and individual worth in our times,” says Ann Marie Kirk, co-founder of Art for Justice, a nonprofit that brings awareness to challenges in the criminal justice system through the art of prisoners. “I understand that fairness for all people is made possible – or not possible – through the criminal justice system and other structures and institutions of society.

“The criminal justice system, as acknowledged by many in our country, is broken. My hope is that those who behold this exhibit will be enriched personally by the experience and will also look for ways to engage constructively in their communities and the issues of our times.”

The Moravian Church Eastern District is proud to partner with ArtQuest’s Banana Factory and the Moravian Seminary to bring this exhibit to the Banana Factory for free viewing anytime the Banana Factory is open (www.bananafactory.org).

You are also invited to attend the following special events:

  • March 1 and April 5, 6:30 – 9 p.m., First Fridays at the Banana Factory. Special speakers, projects, and engagements.
  • March 19, 7 p.m., Lecture at Moravian College’s Prosser Auditorium
    Speaker: Tyrone Werts, Soros Fellow, PA Lifer commuted by Gov. Rendell.
    We encourage you to register for this free event at the following site: www.moravianseminary.edu/academics/continuingeducation
  • March 24, 2 – 4 p.m., Vigil for Hope in the Criminal Justice System at the Banana Factory. Our keynote speaker, Chester Hollman, Jr. tells the story of his son Chester Hollman III’s wrongful conviction and sentence of life without parole in PA.

For more information, or if you are interested in special curriculum for your small group, youth group or congregation as a way to engage further in the art, please contact the Rev. Janel Rice at [email protected], 610-435-6881.