Mark Strandquist originated the People’s Paper Co-op with partner Courtney Bowles. Mark is a cultural organizer who uses art as a vehicle for connecting diverse communities to build empathy and support for social justice movements.
Mark is a cultural organizer who uses art as a vehicle for connecting diverse communities to build empathy and support for social justice movements.
At the core of his practice is the belief that those most impacted by the criminal justice system (incarcerated individuals, their family members, and those in reentry) are the experts society needs to listen to, and that by connecting those directly affected with a multitude of community experts and political stakeholders, we can create change on personal and policy levels. His projects include: working with incarcerated youth to create their own police training manuals (which are being used to train every police officer in Richmond, VA); working with incarcerated men, women and teens to design interactive public art installations that have engaged thousands of viewers across the United States; and organizing teams of lawyers, artists, and formerly incarcerated individuals to help facilitate free legal clinics that have cleared the records of thousands of individuals.
Beyond expanding advocacy efforts in various states and impacting direct participants through a highly collaborative process, his projects have received multiple awards, fellowships, national residencies, and reached wide audiences through the NY Times, the Guardian, NPR, the Washington Post, PBS NewsHour, VICE, and a multitude of other media outlets.
As a writer he has presented at a multitude of conferences, contributes articles on contemporary photography to the website FeatureShoot, and co-edits and co-founded the website Photography as a Social Practice. This April, working with the Magnum Foundation, he began his first curatorial project, Tactics of Collaboration: A Participatory Playbook, which works with socially engaged photographers from around the world to create an open-sourced toolkit to inspire, challenge, and inform the community-based work of students of all ages.