"Reimagining Justice": A Restorative Justice Art Contest

RJ art contest

How can we portray Restorative Justice through images?

Images play a powerful role in communicating complex ideas. Indeed, it is often said that “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

There are many images used to symbolize the retributive approach to justice-making including police handcuffs, prison bars, a courtroom, a judge’s gavel, and Lady Justice with her blindfold, sword, and scales.

There are comparatively very few images to symbolize the restorative approach to justice-making. The most common images used are of a handshake or a group of people seated in a circle, which do not communicate significant conceptual depth to someone new to restorative justice.

Considering this need for more images to communicate restorative justice, the National Center on Restorative Justice at Vermont Law School is hosting “Reimagining Justice,” a restorative justice art contest.

This contest is inviting the restorative justice and art communities to consider a very important question:

How can we use the power of images to communicate the concept of restorative justice and the greater philosophical shift at work to a wider audience?

You may wish to consider:

  • What symbols, metaphors, or stories help to communicate the restorative approach to justice-making?
  • How could we interact with and modify common justice images to communicate the restorative philosophical shift in our understanding and approach to wrongdoing? For example, what would a restorative Lady Justice look like?
  • How can the concept of a restorative community be portrayed artistically?

All entries should be submitted by email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 5pm EST on Friday November 13, 2020.

Please include the following information:

  • First and last name
  • Email address
  • Title of your submission (less than 20 characters including spaces)
  • A brief (one paragraph) artist statement discussing the image and your process creating it
  • Please submit your artwork as a jpeg, attached to an email (less than 10mb in file size and at least 1200px wide)
  • A gallery of the images alongside artist statements will be featured in a virtual Restorative Justice Art Show from November 18th-22nd, 2020 in celebration of International Restorative Justice week. During this time, visitors will be able to vote for three Viewer’s Choice Awards that will be awarded at the end of the week.

Long-term, the gallery will be featured on the National Center on Restorative Justice website and will become part of the public domain. Please note that the National Center on Restorative Justice reserves the right to not post an image deemed inappropriate for a general audience in the art show gallery and on the website. If this decision is made, the reason will be communicated to the artist.