Society’s Cage

Society’s Cage is a bold interpretive installation that challenges visitors to reckon with America’s long history of racial injustice and white supremacy. With a design rooted in statistical facts, it is at once unsettling and uplifting, a place to raise awareness, build empathy, and provide sanctuary for contemplation and healing.


Society’s Cage Design Team (CAOS)

Practice Area


Dayton Schroeter (self initiated)


The approach to this project was to avoid the cliché “feel good” monument designed to produce sentimentality and nostalgia for its own sake. The design team saw this as an opportunity to create an experience that could challenge and empower the visitor with resources and tools to be change agents for racial justice. Society’s Cage takes the ugliness of racism and renders it in a beautiful way to draw people in to have uncomfortable but necessary conversations about racial justice and reconciliation.

Society’s Cage is a grassroots effort born in the aftermath of the Breonna Taylor and George Floyd murders. It is a national traveling art installation designed to contextualize the contemporary phenomenon of police killings of Black Americans within the 400-year history of anti-Black racialized state violence in the United States. It provides an opportunity to acknowledge and reckon with the severity of racial biases inherent in the institutional structures of justice and creates a space for reflection and contemplation.

Washington DC National Mall Installation towards National Monument at Dawn

Alan Karchmer

Washington DC National Mall Installation towards National Monument interpretive apron

Alan Karchmer

Part of the pavilion is an imperfect cube that symbolizes unrendered justice for Black Americans where the history of anti-Black state violence erodes the purity of the cube form to create a cavernous void. Only a quarter of the rods reach to the ground, reflecting the grim fact that one in four Black Americans will be incarcerated in their lifetime.

Baltimore Installation Woman kneeling

Baltimore Installation The Shape of Racism

Each facade of the cube embodies a graphic representation of a historic data graph that describes how Black Americans have been impacted by the primary institutional forces of state violence including mass incarceration, civilian killings by police, capital punishment, and lynching. The resulting concept is a 15-foot by 15-foot raised pavilion consisting of nearly 500 suspended weathered steel rods that form a perfect cube, suggesting a fair and equitable societal construct. The steel bars are weathered. Their color resembles the variety of melanin in the Black diaspora, and their texture represents the enduring legacy of institutional racism in America.

Washington DC National Mall BLM Protestor

Tulsa Centennial of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre

Dayton Schroeter

Tulsa Centennial of 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre: Children of Tulsa

Dayton Schroeter

Project Details
Timely and relevant – this community driven piece creates a public stage for reflection, interpretation and self expression. I love how the public interacts with it and within it.
Juror 1
I was inspired by many aspects of this project, but most of all the fact that it created a new public space: A place for performance, commemoration, protest and discourse around social justice. Simple yet incredibly powerful!
Juror 2
The social impact of this installation is needed for the time we are in now. Since this installation is not permanent, this will impact generations of people and create the right notion of where change is needed.
Juror 3
Design Team

Dayton Schroeter (creative coordinator, lead designer)
Julian Arrington (co-lead designer)
Monteil Crawley (project designer)
Ivan O’garro (project designer)


Gronning Design + Manufacturing LLC (physical fabrication firm)
ABC Imaging, D.C. (digital fabrication firm)
Smithgroup (primary sponsor)
Raney Antoine, UP the Producer (soundscape production)

Photo Credits

Jame Glisson
Wale Ajagbe
Brian Donovan
Mark Dennis
Dayton Schroeter
Alan Karchmer
Society’s Cage Design Team (CAOS)
Yauri Dalencour (videography)

Open Date

August 2020