October 27 Thursday

Celebrate the Life, Art, & Legacy of Winfred Rembert (1945-2021)

  • Thursday, October 27, 2022 at 5:30PM - 7:30PM
  • NXTHVN - 169 Henry Street, New Haven, CT 06511
  • Open To The Public
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The Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School and Public Humanities at Yale honor beloved longtime New Haven resident Winfred Rembert—the late Georgia-born artist, Equal Justice Initiative honoree, and 2022 Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Chasing Me to My Grave: An Artist’s Memoir of the Jim Crow South—with a distinguished panel of intimates, artists, and scholars for an evening of discussion and community.

Winfred Rembert (1945-2021) was an artist from Cuthbert, Georgia, whose paintings have been exhibited at museums and galleries around the country. He was recently cited as “one of the century’s most unique and visionary artist-chroniclers of Black American life, alongside such giants as Jacob Lawrence and Horace Pippin.” Rembert grew up in a family of field laborers. He joined the Civil Rights movement as a teenager, survived a near-lynching at the hands of law enforcement, and spent seven years on chain gangs. Decades later, at the age of 51 and encouraged by his wife Patsy, Rembert became an artist to share his life story by carving, tooling, and painting autobiographical scenes from his youth onto leather canvas, using leather-tooling skills he had learned in prison. Rembert was honored by the Equal Justice Initiative in 2015, and in 2016 received a United States Artists Barr Fellowship. His illustrated memoir Chasing Me to My Grave, as told to Erin I. Kelly, with a foreword by Bryan Stevenson, was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal of Excellence in Nonfiction and won the Mary Lynn Kotz Award for Art in Literature and the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Biography. (Read an excerpt on Rembert’s surviving the chain gang.)


  • Patsy Rembert (Rembert’s wife of 46 years, youth advocate)
  • Erin l. Kelly (Rembert’s co-author, Professor of Philosophy, Tufts University)
  • Reginald Dwayne Betts (JC member, Founder & Director of Freedom Reads)
  • Elizabeth Hinton (JC member, Professor of History, Yale University)
  • Kymberly N. Pinder (Dean, Yale School of Art)

Patsy Rembert met Winfred while he was in prison and doing forced labor near her home in Turner County, GA. After four years of letter-writing, the two married upon his release in 1974 and moved north, settling in New Haven, CT, where they raised eight children and Mrs. Rembert became a longtime youth advocate. It was Patsy who first convinced her husband to pursue art seriously, and to tell his life story visually, using the leather-tooling skills he’d learned in prison.

Erin I. Kelly is a Professor of Philosophy at Tufts University, co-author with Winfred Rembert of Chasing Me to My Grave, and author of The Limits of Blame: Rethinking Punishment and Responsibility. Kelly teaches, writes, and speaks about ethics, criminal law, and social justice, including through the Tufts University Prison Initiative.

Reginald Dwayne Betts (JC member), is the Founder & Director of Freedom Reads, a first-of-its-kind organization working to radically transform access to literature in prison. For more than twenty years, he has used his poetry and essays to explore the world of prison and the effects of violence and incarceration on American society. The author of a memoir and three collections of poetry, he has transformed his latest collection of poetry, the American Book Award-winning Felon, into a solo theater show that explores the post-incarceration experience and lingering consequences of a criminal record through poetry, stories, and engaging with the timeless and transcendental art of paper-making.

Elizabeth Hinton (JC member) is an Associate Professor of American History and African American Studies at Yale University and a Professor of Law at Yale Law School. She is the author of America on Fire, winner of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Book Award, and From the War on Poverty to the War on Crime. Hinton’s research focuses on the persistence of poverty, racial inequality, and urban violence in the 20th-century United States. She is considered one of the nation’s leading experts on criminalization and policing.

Kymberly N. Pinder, an internationally recognized scholar of race, representation, and mural art, is Dean of the Yale School of Art. She is the author of Painting the Gospel and the editor of the anthology Race-ing Art History. Prior to her tenure at Yale, Dean Pinder served as acting president of the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, dean of the College of Fine Arts at the University of New Mexico, and chair of the Department of Art History, Theory and Criticism and director of the graduate program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

This event is co-sponsored by The Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School and Public Humanities at Yale University.

Event parking available on Henry Street or Hillhouse High School (480 Sherman Parkway, New Haven, CT 06511)

Winfred Rembert’s All Me, II, 2005 © 2021 Estate of Winfred Rembert / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York. Photograph of Rembert by Renan Ozturk.

Sponsoring Organization(s)

The Justice Collaboratory at Yale Law School and Public Humanities at Yale