Artistic Noise exists to bring the freedom and power of artistic practice to young people who are incarcerated, on probation, or otherwise involved in the justice system. Through visual arts and entrepreneurship programs in Massachusetts and New York, our participants give voice to their experiences, build community through collaborative projects, and learn valuable life and job skills. Artistic Noise creates safe spaces where court-involved youth can be seen, heard and supported on their path to adulthood. We believe the practice of making art offers opportunities for young people and communities to transform.

Why We Exist

Mass Incarceration and how young people are treated by the juvenile justice system are major social justice issues of our time. 

Art is a powerful tool to effect social change. Artistic Noise does this by helping our youth to tell their own stories to the public through art and advocate for themselves and their communities. It is vital for our youth artists to tell their own stories rather than relying on others to tell their stories for them. 

Viewing works of visual art allows the public to connect to and understand the artist without the artist being present. In that way the youth artists’ stories can be told and retold in the public sphere even as they may still be removed from public life while incarcerated.

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. Though young people affected by 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. At Artistic Noise, teens develop a sense of personal pride and community belonging.

Since our inception we have been committed to working with small numbers of youth for long periods of time, often several years. Given the unique needs of the youth we work with, focusing on small groups of participants creates the most positive and lasting impact. In an average year we work with 150-200 youth.