Our Mission: To bring the freedom and power of artistic practice to young people who are incarcerated, on probation, or otherwise involved in the justice system. 

Why We Exist: Mass incarceration of young people is a major social justice issue of our time. Art is a powerful tool to impact social change. Artistic Noise does this by helping our youth tell their own stories through art exhibitions, public art projects, and community events.

Once a young person is involved in the justice system, he or she often lacks the resources and network to successfully transition back to community living. Siblings, families, groups of friends, and communities are affected by a youth’s involvement in the justice system. Although young people involved in the justice system have a great deal to say, they have few places to be heard. They have few healthy opportunities to assume responsibility and demonstrate leadership, to experience accomplishment and affirmation, and to develop their creative voice. Artistic Noise gives its young people a sense of personal pride and community belonging.

Artistic Noise has always served young people in the community. It all started when a lawyer, Francine Sherman, and a teaching artist, Lauren Adelman, created a photography workshop at a girl’s detention facility in Boston. Francine and Lauren immediately realized the impact of this arts group, as it gave each young woman a safe place to share their story and process the trauma of incarceration. When the workshop was over, one incarcerated young woman wasn’t ready to let the experience end in that detention facility. Upon her release, Minotte Romulus, together with Francine and Lauren, co-founded Artistic Noise in 2001.

Seven years later Lauren Adelman expanded Artistic Noise to New York City, becoming an independent non-profit. Our model has grown beyond studio art workshops to include art therapy and an entrepreneurship program for youth who’ve returned to the community, providing treatment and continuity in their lives. Over the years, Artistic Noise has helped thousands of teens affected by the justice system in Boston and New York City. We remain a small but powerful grassroots organization with a narrowly focused mission to change lives through art.