Meet Piper Anderson, Radical Imagination Fellow

This year, The LP has invited storyteller, artist, and scholar Piper Anderson to be our inaugural Radical Imagination Fellow, a year-long position supported by The David Rockefeller Fund. Piper is working with The LP staff, board, and artist community to deepen our organizational understandings around timely issues of abolition, healing justice, public memory, and the Black radical imagination. Using diverse strategies such as reading groups, writings, public events, and public art, Piper is leading The LP in examining our own structures and programming through these lenses. Get to know more about Piper!

The LP: What does radical imagination mean to you?
Piper Anderson: It means removing the ceiling from our imaginations so that we can envision a future that is free of systems of punishment and oppression. It’s having the courage to believe that it is possible to create a world where we aren’t dependent on prisons and policing, and then working each day to build that future. 

LP: In your opinion, why does art matter?
PA: Art matters because it makes culture and shifts culture. You can’t create change without it. It challenges and transforms the collective each time we encounter a powerful work of art. 

LP: Which LP value do you most relate to, and why?
PA: “Write your own histories” appeals to me because so much of my work is about narrative transformation through uncovering erased or ignored collective memory. We can’t build the future without owning our pasts. 

LP: What do you hope your Radical Imagination Fellowship achieves?
PA: I hope that it inspires dialogue about the role of memory work in devising abolitionist strategies for community healing and transformation. I want to bring together abolitionists working to end criminalization and develop mutual aid strategies to document their work, and encourage them to create new archives that will be essential to transforming the entrenched narratives around punishment. 

Piper Anderson is a writer, cultural organizer, healing practitioner, and founder of the social justice consultancy Create Forward. Through a TED Residency, she developed the innovative storytelling project Mass Story Lab, which traveled to thirteen cities across the US, bringing together communities to reckon with the impact of incarceration. In 2018, she co-founded the Rikers Public Memory Project, a community truth and healing initiative making the case for reparative justice in NYC through an oral history collection, and multimedia exhibit. She is a faculty member at NYU’s Prison Education Program and the Gallatin School.