This patch was commissioned and funded by the Amplifier Foundation. Please check out the work they do!
I designed these patches with the goal of creating a prison graphic that wasn’t depressing. Images of people in prison, handcuffs, bars, and cages have their place, and are very important. But it also seems important to create images that start to break those tropes open, transform them. The intention here was to have a rainbow which is both concentrating into a point which can smash the bars from the outside, as well as a rainbow screaming out and cracking the bars from the inside. The prison culture we are trapped in can only be changed by the combined forces of inside and out.
In addition, more and more of the images challenging mass incarceration and prisons are clean, digital, and highly polished. This is good, these images can have a life and slip in to more mainstream venues where these messages haven’t reached before. But I wanted to do something a little different. Even though this image was going to be embroidered by a machine, I wanted to keep it clear that it was drawn by a human hand, that the process of challenging the criminal justice system we have (which is brutally violent, racist, classist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, and more) is one that will be uneven, wobbly, awkward, and made by the hands of thousands of struggling, imperfect people.
You can get a sense of scale from the photo below.