Art & Advocacy

PLSE believes that art can play a role in starting conversations, changing perspectives and inspiring action around the complicated human and social issues those artists portray.  Taking that premise a step further, PLSE’s art & advocacy work seeks out opportunities to collaborate with artists interested in blurring the line between art and activism, observer and participant.

Recent Collaborations

People’s Paper Co-Op

People's Paper CollaborativeSince August 2014, the Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity has partnered with the People’s Paper Co-op (“PPC”) to organize and facilitate free legal clinics across Philadelphia.  At these clinics, participants seeking expungements also print out their records, tear them up, and put them in blenders to create new, blank, sheets of handmade paper.  Participants are asked to write on the paper, in response to the prompt: “Without these records I am…”  Their response and photograph are then embedded into the new paper.  The resulting pages are being sewn together to create a giant paper quilt which will be used as an advocacy tool by PLSE and local policy activists, to pressure state senators to pass legislation that would make it more accessible and affordable for individuals to clear their records.


Richard Ross

In December 2013, PLSE, the Juvenile Law Center, and InLiquid collaborated to produce a series of public events around photographer Richard Ross’s exhibition of photographs of incarcerated juveniles, which culminated in an expungement clinic for adults with juvenile records eligible for expungement in Philadelphia.  PLSE continues to work with photographer Richard Ross by organizing information and/or expungement clinics across the country.



70 Million Americans Have a Criminal Record | (Dec. 1, 2015)

A Criminal Expungement Art Project at the New Museum’s Ideas City Festival | (May 29, 2015)

Co-op Puts Lives on Track While Helping to Expunge Records Philadelphia Inquirer | (Dec. 5, 2014)

From Criminal Record to Clean Slate in Philly’s Promise Zone | Al Jazeera America (Nov. 17, 2014)

Criminal Record Expungement Clinic Invites Participants to Create Art | Philadelphia City Paper (Oct. 6, 2014)

Artful justice, Amid Arresting Art | Daily News (Dec. 5, 2013)

Wine, Cheese, and Lawyers to Help You Clean Up Your Rap Sheet | Mother Jones (Dec. 2, 2013)

Juvenile Injustice Photo Project Captures Kids Behind Bars | CBS News