About the Project

Combat Breathing & Chicago Torture Justice Memorial Project

Combat Breathing & Chicago Torture Justice Memorial Project is an artist book that chronicles the stories of survivors of police violence, the process of building a memorial, and the continued fight against mass criminalization and incarceration. Combat Breathing draws its title and inspiration from Frantz Fanon.

This project brings together survivors of police torture and artists through photographs, oral histories, timelines, and drawings to reflect on the journey towards reparations and the current fight to free loved ones and others incarcerated at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This project archives the process of building a memorial in the context of calls to #DefundPolice and tear down racist monuments while connecting the military industrial complex to the prison industrial complex and the significant role of policing, specifically in Chicago.

This work is an archive, available in both digital and printed form, to tell the story of a movement for reparations and how a memorial becomes a symbol spearheaded by survivors to create pathways to heal.

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About the Artist

Patricia Nguyen

Patricia Nguyen is an artist, educator, and scholar born and raised in Chicago. She is an Assistant Professor in Asian American Studies and the Council for Race and Ethnic Studies at Northwestern University, where she received her Ph.D. in Performance Studies. Her research and artwork examines the military and prison industrial complex, forced migration, oral histories, inherited trauma, torture, and nation building in the United States and Vietnam.

Patricia has facilitated trainings and creative workshops with the Prison + Neighborhood Arts/Education Project, 96 Acres, Kuumba Lynx, Young Cultural Stewards with the Chicago Park District, Fulbright Program, Jane Addams Hull House, Asian Human Services, and Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago focusing on the connection between art and politics.

More recently, Patricia is an award-winning memorial designer for the Chicago Torture Justice Memorial Project, the first monument in the United States to honor survivors of police violence.

Learn More About Patricia and the work of CTJ

Patricia Nguyen

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About Illinois Humanities' Envisioning Justice program

Envisioning Justice brings Illinois together to examine and reimagine the criminal legal system through the arts and humanities.

Envisioning Justice leverages the arts and humanities to envision alternatives to the enduring injustice of mass incarceration. This Illinois Humanities initiative works with communities and people impacted by mass incarceration to spark conversation and illuminate community-based strategies that address our racist and unjust criminal legal system.

From 2017 to 2019, Envisioning Justice was concentrated in Chicago. Moving forward, Illinois Humanities is expanding this initiative and its attendant activities throughout the state. As a part of this next phase of Envisioning Justice, we will host and document community conversations, provide grant opportunities, and commission projects by artists and humanists working to shift the narrative around incarceration and system impacted communities.

Learn more about the Envisioning Justice program, including upcoming events and grant offerings.

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