By Elizabeth Howard
In 1997, at the age of sixteen, Halim A. Flowers was arrested and received two life sentences. He proclaimed his innocence, yet was labeled a superpredator and incarcerated in an adult prison. He was released in 2019 after spending 22 years and 2 months in prison. Flowers has become an artist, writer, designer, and advocate for social justice. Elizabeth Howard and Halim engage in a provocative conversation around issues raised by art, the criminal justice system, and how it felt to be on the inside.
Halim A. Flowers (b. 1980, Washington, DC) is a visual artist, spoken word performer, autodidact, businessman, and author of eleven published non-fiction works. He is married to L. Patrice McKinney and they are raising a family in Washington, DC. A Member of the Board of Directors of The Frederick Douglass Project for Justice and Cultural DC, he is an ardent advocate for human rights and is best known for his quote, “Love is the Antibody.” In the short time since the Incarceration Reduction Amendment Act of 2016 effectuated his 2019 release from prison, he has created a stunning spectrum of paintings and spoken word projects that reflect a benevolent mission forged and galvanized over decades in a pressure cooker.
In 1997, as a minor, Halim A. Flowers was arrested and wrongfully sentenced to two life sentences in Washington, DC. His experiences were chronicled on HBO in the Emmy award-winning documentary Thug Life in DC. Flowers’ release was documented in Kim Kardashian-West’s The Justice Project film. In 2019 he was awarded the Halcyon Arts Lab and Echoing Green fellowship awards. In 2020, Flowers’ TEDx Talk “Criminal Justice Reform” and his prolific production and exhibition of his visual art, e.g., The Museum of Modern Art’s Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration exhibit, advanced his mission to promote love among all humans. A beneficiary of Georgetown University’s Prison and Justice Initiative, Flowers studied Government, Philosophy, Reparations: African-American Literature, and English 101 in a mentorship with academic advisor, Professor Marc Morjé Howard (2018-2019). More recently, as a grant recipient from the Art for Justice Fund, Flowers was featured as a “Justice Ambassador” in the film Halim’s Hope (2020).
Elizabeth Howard is the host and the producer of the Short Fuse Podcast. For her, there are no barriers between her life, work, art, and writing. She seeks collaboration, flexibility, spontaneity and responsiveness in the projects she designs and completes. As the host of the Short Fuse podcast she draws individuals into lively and provocative conversations around the arts: dance, theater, literature, music, and film.
Music for the Short Fuse Podcast
Jeannine Otis recorded the music for this episode of the Short Fuse Podcast. Music has always been a part of Jeannine’s life. Her mother was a musical director and her family includes the Jones Brothers, Hank, Thad, and Elvin who formed the basis of exposure to music that began a career that started with Jeannine’s debut as a vocalist with the Detroit Symphony with American Youth Performs at age 12.
She has shared the stage with great musicians of every genre (especially jazz) who have served as mentors including Grover Washington Jr., Arthur Prysock, Kool and the Gang, Joe Chambers and Donald Byrd, Rudy Mwangozi, Saul Ruin, Stanley Banks bassist, Finnish Jazz composer Heikki Sarmanto and Vishnu Wood, bassist, and his band Safari East.
Alex Waters is a media producer and editor for the Short Fuse Podcast, a music producer, and Berklee College of Music student. He has written and produced music and edited for podcasts such as The Faith and Chai Podcast and Con Confianza. He produces his own, as well as writes music and records for independent artists such as The Living. Alex lives in Brooklyn. You can reach him with inquiries by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Short Fuse Podcast is produced by the Arts Fuse. Email: email@example.com
The Arts Fuse was established in June, 2007 as a curated, independent online arts magazine dedicated to publishing in-depth criticism, along with high quality previews, interviews, and commentaries. The publication’s over 60 freelance critics (many of them with decades of experience) cover dance, film, food, literature, music, television, theater, video games, and visual arts.