Justice Arts Coalition and Workhouse Arts Center Presents Emergence

By Editorial Team on August 15, 2022

Fri, 22 July 2022 - Sun, 16 October 2022

Woman Power, Gary Harrell. Courtesy of Justice Arts Coalition.

Justice Arts Coalition and Workhouse Arts Center present Emergence, an exhibition running from July 22 through October 16, 2022. Emergence features works by artists previously and currently confined to carceral institutions across the United States.

Once known as the Lorton Reformatory, Fairfax County transformed the grounds of the former prison complex into a community arts center after the facility’s mandated closing in 2001 due to overcrowding and decaying facilities. The site now invites visitors to reimagine what a repurposed prison has the potential to become.

A tension still exists, however, within Workhouse Arts Center’s walls. The prison’s closing marked the end of an institution notorious for abuse that has never fully been reckoned with, and without a designated D.C. prison, individuals sentenced in the District can be sent out to any of the numerous federal prisons across the county – regardless of distance – severed from their communities and families.

Emergence not only bears witness to Workhouse Arts Center’s past, but to the current state of the carceral system in the U.S. Through the works of over 30 artists, this exhibition invites viewers to explore and question the circumstances in which both the venue and the artworks were made, and asks them to consider what is possible by reclaiming a space created for captivity and transforming it into a place of creative possibilities.

Emergence opens July 22, 2022. End the Exception is a national art campaign calling for the eradication of the Thirteenth Amendment exception clause, which allows for the continuation of slavery as punishment for a crime. The teach-in uses art making and viewing to ask participants to consider how their personal experiences connect them to the historical legacy of prison labor.


  • Wednesday through Saturdays, 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM
  • Sundays 12:00 PM to 5:00 PM.

Workhouse Art Center is located at 9518 Workhouse Way in Lorton, VA.