Felix “Phill” Rosado is cofounder and co-coordinator of Let’s Circle Up, a restorative justice project based at Graterford State Prison. Originally from Reading, PA, he has been fighting a death by incarceration sentence since 1995. He also co-coordinates the Alternatives to Violence Project and is a member of the Inside-Out Graterford Think Tank. In 2016, he earned his Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies degree from Villanova University. He is an advisor to Decarcerate PA, as well as to Eastern State Penitentiary’s Prisons Today Exhibit and Returning Citizens Tour Guide Program. As a member of Right 2 Redemption (a founding organization of the Coalition to Abolish Death by Incarceration) and Lifelines, he seeks to end the practice of caging humans until death.
PHILL: I learned that art is a highly effective way to tell a story about unspeakable issues, such as how a man who’s been locked up for 22 years answers questions about his inability to leave a visiting room to his 7-year-old nephew.
KATE: I feel like you’ve captured something that’s a key feature in the prison experience: that the most human basic needs become reformatted into a series of protocols that insult your humanity every step of the way, right? Food, clothing, shelter, hygiene, water… we could make art for the next 10 years about how these basics are used to remind [incarcerated people] of their powerlessness and lack of agency.
PHILL: Freedom to me is the ability to make choices about where my body will be on a given day and who I will share space with. This definition comes directly out of conversations between me and Kate. There are also freedoms of the non-physical variety that prison walls can’t confine.
KATE: To me freedom exists when we are able to achieve our full selves accessing our full humanity, creativity & capacity to thrive in relationships that are both loving and challenging. A part of this includes defending this freedom for others & discovering fulfillment by experiencing the liberation of others.
Kate DeCiccio is an artist, educator and cultural organizer with a background in mental health. Her work focuses on using portraiture for creating counter-narratives to address issues including police brutality, interrogating whiteness, the prison industrial complex, and gentrification. Before working full time as an artist, Kate taught at San Quentin Prison, Leadership High School, and Capitol Hill Arts workshop, and worked as a mental health and substance abuse counselor in a residential program designed to support successful community reintegration after an acute psychiatric break. Kate’s approach to storytelling and portraiture is informed by her experiences working in social services and studying the importance of personal narratives. Learn more at http://kdeciccio.wixsite.com/k8deciccio.