We want to use the arts and different storytelling traditions to interrogate, transform, and spread new dignifying narratives fordebt justice.

ball and chain

The Debt Collectors Series

The Debt Collectors Series tells the story of the debt industry and the lives it has impacted. In 2018 nearly 71 million US adults had a debt turned over to private debt collection. Among those who were taken to court, less than 10 percent had legal representation.

Drawing its inspiration from Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series (1940-1941), the paintings and their captions document the transformation of the debt industry, its alliance with the courts, and the day-to-day presence of debt collection in the lives of the truly disadvantaged. The Debt Collectors Series maintains Lawrence’s bold color patches, partially illuminated spaces, and explicit links to sociological, anthropological, legal, literary, and ethnographic sources.

The Debt Collectors Series was conceptualized by Frederick F. Wherry, the Townsend Martin, Class of 1917 Professor of Sociology at Princeton, and collaboratively re-envisioned with the artists Ari Riggins ‘23 and Rachel Mkraich ’21 and with the VizE Lab. As a part of the Debt Collection Lab, the Series is an open-ended endeavor that will recruit poets and other artists to add and to deepen the stories told.

Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series

See the full series