Marking Time: Prison Arts and Activism Conference
Organized and Hosted by the Institute for Research on Women, Rutgers, New Brunswick
October 8-10 2014
Keynote speaker: Reginald Dwayne Betts, Poet and Author of A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison and Shahid Reads His Own Palm.
Nicole R. Fleetwood is Director of the Institute for Research on Women and Associate Professor in the Department of American Studies at Rutgers University. Fleetwood received her Ph.D. from Stanford University in the Program in Modern Thought and Literature and her B.Phil. from the School of Interdisciplinary Studies at Miami University (Ohio). Her articles appear in American Quarterly, Signs, Social Text, tdr: the journal of performance studies, and edited anthologies. Her book Troubling Vision: Performance, Visuality, and Blackness (University of Chicago Press 2011) is the recipient of the 2012 Lora Romero First Book Publication Prize of the American Studies Association. She has worked as a consultant and has collaborated with a number of arts organizations and programs. Currently, she is working on two books. One is a study of racial icons, commissioned by Rutgers University Press. The second is a study of prison art and visuality in which she examines a range of visual art and practices emerging inside prisons and about prison life, including photography, painting, and collaborative works with arts organizations and commissioned artists.
Sarah Tobias is Associate Director of the Institute for Research on Women. Her work bridges academia and public policy. A feminist theorist and LGBT activist, she is co-author of Policy Issues Affecting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Families (University of Michigan Press, 2007) and author of "Several Steps Behind: Lesbian and Gay Adoption" in Sally Haslanger and Charlotte Witt (eds.), Adoption Matters: Philosophical and Feminist Essays (Cornell University Press, 2005), as well as co-author and editor of numerous policy-related reports and articles. Prior to joining IRW in January 2010, she spent over 8 years working in the nonprofit sector and also taught at Rutgers-Newark, the City University of New York (Baruch College and Queens College), and Columbia University. In addition to serving as Associate Director of IRW, Sarah is affiliate faculty in the Women's and Gender Studies Department at Rutgers. She has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Columbia University and an undergraduate degree from Cambridge University, England
PANELISTS AND ARTISTS
Helena Acosta is an independent art curator. She studied art history at the University of Los Andes in Merida and holds a MA in Exhibition Project Management awarded by the School of Design Elisava in Barcelona, Spain. Her work as a researcher has developed in different countries such as Japan, Spain, Colombia, and Venezuela. Her work focuses on the study of new media art and photography in relation to contemporary social processes and dynamics. In 2012 she held the first biennale, Emerging Artists, The kinetic legacy at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Caracas. Recently she participated as a curator in the first online biennale, The Wrong New Digital Art Biennale, created by David Quilles. Her work as a curator has earned two awards from the Generalitat of Catalonia in Spain in 2010 and the Institute of Contemporary Art Tokyo Wonder Site in Japan in 2012.
David Adler is a documentary filmmaker focused on the visual arts. His films have been shown on US public television, the BBC, and in a gallery setting. He organized the ‘arts and economics’ conference at the 2013 Athens (Greece) Biennale, about how artists are interpreting the economic crisis. He is particularly interested in art production and exhibition systems that exist outside of the official museum and gallery world. Over the past half decade, he has been collecting prisoner photographic portraits featuring prisoner created backdrops. This work has been show at the Athens Biennale; The Clocktower Gallery (NY); and Eastern State Penitentiary (Philadelphia). Several of these backdrops will be on display during the conference. Currently he is producing a new video installation POTLATCH about a prison art and dance festival of the same name. Portions of this will be shown during the conference.
Simone A. James Alexander is Professor of English and Director of Africana Studies at Seton Hall University, New Jersey, where she teaches courses in African American literature, African literature, Caribbean literature, Russian literature, American Literature and women writers. She was the immediate past Chair of the Department of Africana Studies. Professor Alexander is the author of African Diasporic Women’s Narratives: Politics of Resistance, Survival and Citizenship (University of Florida Press, 2014), Mother Imagery in the Novels of Afro-Caribbean Women (University of Missouri Press, 2001) and co-editor of Feminist & Critical Perspectives on Caribbean Mothering (Africa World Press, 2013). She is currently working on a book titled Black Freedom in Communist Russia: Great Expectations, Utopian Visions.
Sarah Atlas is an educator, activist, and artist in Chicago. She currently works at a non-profit organization that educates and inspires under-served young people through the visual arts. She is also an organizer with grassroots education movements in Chicago. Sarah believes in the transformative power of the arts and her work reflects the practice of creative resistance that sees art as a vital role in the struggle for social justice movements.
Regina Austin pursues her interest in the overlapping burdens of race, gender, and class oppression in traditional legal scholarship, as well as in her work on documentary films. She is the director of the Penn Program on Documentaries & the Law, a major project of which is a seminar which engages PennLaw students in the production of advocacy videos made on behalf of social justice clients or causes. The videos are streamed on the Program’s website and You Tube. Much of the work focuses on criminal justice sentencing. The program holds an annual Visual Legal Advocacy Roundtable for public interest lawyers, and maintains a national repository of dozens of clemency videos as a resource for attorneys representing capital defendants.
Meredith-Lyn Avey's professional career as a dancer began in 2006, where she has performed for various independent choreographers within a multitude of venues while also showing her own work in NYC. In January 2009, Meredith joined Avodah Dance where she performs, collaborates, leads and co-facilitates creative movement residencies within women’s prisons, public schools and community centers. Meredith has also conducted several creative movement workshops for the Bella Abzug Leadership Institute, NYC, a leadership and debate training organization for young women, and has coordinated a creative movement/spoken word residency in a Brooklyn public high school. Meredith holds a BFA in Dance Performance from SUNY Purchase College Conservatory of Dance, and a Master’s Degree in Nonprofit Management from The New School for Public Engagement. Meredith has been assisting Avodah Dance as Outreach and Development Assistant since 2011 and currently acts as a freelance research assistant, writer, and nonprofit consultant.
Wende Ballew is the Executive Director of Reforming Arts Incorporated. Wende has extensive experience as a freelance theatre professional and arts manager as well as being an educator. As a theatre professional she has worked for Georgia Ensemble Theatre, Aurora Theatre, the Neighborhood Playhouse, and the Atlanta Arts Festival. As an arts manager Wende worked for the University of West Georgia and Cobb County. Wende holds a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Arts, a Masters of Business Administration, a Masters of Arts in American Studies, and she is currently working on her PhD in Adult Learning at the University of Georgia. Wende has taught at Kennesaw State University and continues to teach and direct Reforming Arts classes inside Lee Arrendale State prison.
Marisa Belausteguigoitia is the former Director of the PUEG (Programa Universitario de Estudios de Género) at the National University of Mexixo, UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México) and full professor at the Faculty of Philosophy and Letters of the same institution. She has a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies, Cultural and Gender studies from the University of California at Berkeley.
Reginald Dwayne Betts is a writer and poet. Four Way Books will publish his latest collection of poems, Bastards of the Reagan Era. His first collection of poems, Shahid Reads His Own Palm, won the Beatrice Hawley Award. Betts’ memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, was the recipient of the 2010 NAACP Image Award for non-fiction. His writing has also led to a Soros Justice Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Ruth Lily Fellowship, and a Pushcart Prize. In addition to his writing, Mr. Betts serves as the national spokesperson for the Campaign for Youth Justice and was appointed to the Coordinating Council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention by President Barack Obama. He is currently a student at Yale Law School.
Lisa L. Biggs, Assistant Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University, is a performing artist and performance scholar. Her ongoing interest in how justice, law enforcement and prisoner rehabilitation are enacted is currently expressed through research on the impact of theatre and dance programs for incarcerated women in the US and South Africa.
Leslie Bird began her singing career as a voice student at the Hartt School of Music and at the Artists Collective in Hartford. In 1988, she became a singer and later musical director for a cappella gospel singing group Women of the Cross, founded at the Artists Collective. In 2013 Leslie helped establish Women On Our Own, with Artistic Director Judy Dworin. As musical director, Leslie composes original songs, leads rehearsals, and performs with the other members of the group. Leslie became a Teaching Artist for the CT Commission on Culture and Tourism and has since completed several residencies in Connecticut schools. She has also been a lead teaching artist on JDPP’s collaborative teaching team at York Correctional Institution, as well as at Synergy Alternative High School, Kinsella Magnet School of Performing Arts, Parkville Community School and with Hartford Performs. Leslie composed the song score for three JDPP performance pieces and received a Meet the Composer Grant from NEFA for her work on the JDPP production of Dreamings in 2009.
Lee Bernstein is Professor of History at SUNY New Paltz, where he has taught since 2004. Recent publications include America Is the Prison: Art and Politics in Prison in the 1970s, “The Hudson Valley School of Incarceration: Sing Sing Prison in Antebellum New York,” and “African Americans and the Criminal Justice System,” as part of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture’s The Black Experience in the Western Hemisphere series. Since 2007, he has been a member of the PEN American Center’s Prison Writing Committee.
Kathy Borteck-Gersten is Associate Artistic Director of the Judy Dworin Performance Artist in the Bridging Boundaries program. Kathy has worked with women in prison, as well as children impacted by incarceration using movement as a vehicle for expression in creating performance work.
Pete Brook is a freelance writer and curator who analyses images about and from the U.S. prison industrial complex. ‘Prison Photography’ has been recognized as a top photo website by LIFE, British Journal of Photography and Daily Beast. Pete has curated shows internationally at Photoville (New York), Noorderlicht (Netherlands), Reportage Festival (Sydney), Belgrade, and Haverford College.
Laurie Brooks, Executive Director, William James Association, is a ceramics artist and has been WJA director since 2001, Laurie has facilitated Prison Arts Projects for adults and youth since 1989, including the nationally recognized Arts in Corrections. She collaborated with the CAC in the 90s developing Arts in Youth Authority and Arts in Mental Health and worked 15 years with NEA establishing artists-in-residence in Federal Prisons.
Violette Bule has studied at the Active School of Photography in Mexico. Her work has been exhibited at several art centers and museums such as the Centre of Contemporary Art Tokyo Wonder Site, Japan, Museum of Contemporary Art in Caracas, Venezuela, the NEGPOS Gallery and University Paris 7 in France and Gallery EspacioMAD in Venezuela. She has also participated in several art fairs such as Iberoamerican Art Fair, Venezuela; PINTA Latin American Art Fair, Gallery Studio 8 in the UK, Artfair Hong Kong PSH Project, Hong Kong, October Salon Art Young, Venezuela; Life in Photography PIP, China, Context International Contemporary - Modern Art Fair Miami - ArtBasel 2013. In 2013 her piece Odalisque in Red Trousers became part of the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Caracas.
Tehama Lopez Bunyasi is an Assistant Professor at the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University. Her research is grounded in conflicts around race and ethnicity in the United States with specializations in racial attitudes and ideologies, structural inequality, Whiteness, Latino racial identity, and political behavior. Dr. Lopez Bunyasi is currently preparing a book manuscript, Breaking the Contract: The Political Possibilities of Seeing White Privilege. This multi-methodological project examines the role of perceptions of White privilege on the racial attitudes and political preferences of White Americans. This study finds that awareness of the relative advantages Whites have over People of Color contributes to greater support for interventions that help reduce racial inequality. She is also working on a project that examines how the American non-elite makes and ascribes meaning to Latino racial identity through their conversations with one another. In addition to her teaching and academic writings, Lopez Bunyasi promotes dialogue around controversial matters of inequality by contributing commentary to a variety of media outlets, including The New York Times and PBS. Prior to joining S-CAR, Dr. Lopez Bunyasi was on faculty at Ohio University, and held the Samuel DuBois Cook Postdoctoral Fellowship at Duke University's Center for the Study of Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Social Sciences. She is a recipient of the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and a supportive alumna of the Ralph Bunche Summer Institute.
Robyn Buseman has a lengthy background in the criminal and restorative justice field, starting her career as a caseworker for Children and Youth Services and as a juvenile probation officer for Chester County, Pennsylvania. She was the director of a large community based detention shelter for delinquent males, located in Chester County. Ms. Buseman developed and was the long term Director of the Mitchell Program at St. Gabriel’s Hall, an innovative, short term residential program for court adjudicated youth. The program incorporates gardening and animal care to teach empathy and positive competencies, along with an innovative program, the Crime Repair Crew. Youth learned carpentry skills and repaired crime victim homes, incorporating the principals of balanced and restorative justice. Currently, Ms. Buseman is the Director of the Restorative Justice Program for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, a unique combination of the arts, community and the criminal justice system. She holds Bachelors and Masters’ degrees in Criminal Justice.
Matthew Seamus Callinan is the Associate Director of Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and Campus Exhibitions at Haverford College.
Mary Christianakis is an Associate Professor of Critical Theory and Social Justice at Occidental College. Having received her Ph.D. in Language, Literacy, and Culture from UC Berkeley, she studies literacy development from a critical sociocultural perspective, primarily in urban and multilingual school contexts. With Richard Mora, they are conducting research on juvenile justice. For four years now, they have co-taught creative writing to boys held in a juvenile detention facility.
Angel Clark is a photographer/filmmaker and creator of the newly formed parkour! Media Design team. She is the Senior Prevention Specialist of the Center for HIV Prevention and Community Outreach at AVOL AIDS Volunteers, Inc. Angel’s photographs have appeared in pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts and Culture, the Lexington Herald-Leader, Kentucky Monthly, Appalachian Heritage Magazine, the UK Appalachian Stories Project and The Thirteen, a visual art exhibition and live musical/spoken word performance paying homage to thirteen black women and girls who were lynched or otherwise violently murdered in Kentucky. She also owns and operates Lexington's first Eco-friendly community dark room and photography studio.
Joshua Colangelo-Bryan is Of Counsel with Dorsey & Whitney LLP in New York, where he specializes in complex civil litigation, white-collar criminal defense, and internal investigations. Further, Joshua devotes a substantial portion of his practice to pro bono matters, including the representation of Guantanamo Bay detainees. Prior to Dorsey, Joshua served with the United Nations in Kosovo and did post-conflict humanitarian aid work in the Balkans. Joshua has provided commentary to media outlets, including The New York Times, The New Yorker, Good Morning America, ABC World News Tonight, BBC World News, and NPR. He has authored op-eds for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and Politico.
Susan Connor is an occupational therapist and doctoral student with nearly 30 years experience. Most of her career has been spent working with the chronic mentally ill in forensic and correctional settings. Currently, she provides services to inmates at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women.
Russell Craig is a Philadelphia based artist who served a 5 to 10 year prison sentence at Graterford Penitentiary for a non-violent drug offense. While incarcerated he taught himself art in various media, with a focus on portraiture. Russell currently works for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program while maintaining his independent studio practice that focuses on the prison system and issues in his community.
Matthew W. Daloisio is a recent law school graduate & former Ella Baker fellow with the Center for Constitutional Rights. He lived and worked for many years in the New York and Boston Catholic Worker communities. He is a co-founder of and organizer with Witness Against Torture (WAT), a grassroots human a rights organization which formed in 2005 when 25 US citizens went to Guantánamo Bay and attempted to visit the detention facility. WAT has since then organized to shut down Guantánamo by working with interfaith, human rights, and activist groups, and by organizing major demonstrations and nonviolent civil resistance at sites in Washington, D.C. and around the country. Matt currently lives in New York City with his wife and two children.
Karen Davis is a graduate student and instructor at Texas A&M University. She is currently working on both a PhD in Philosophy and an MA in English. Her research interests lie in aesthetics, ethics, philosophy of language and literature, pedagogy, and Shakespeare. Her current project investigates the theoretical underpinnings of the community building and personally transformative power of prison theater programs like Shakespeare Behind Bars as a model for ethical life.
Dr. Chad Dell is Associate Professor of Communication and Chair of the Department of Communication at Monmouth University. He teaches TV Broadcasting; Screenwriting; Television Criticism; Media Literacy; History of the Motion Picture; and Media Policy at the graduate level. He is also a facilitator for the Alternatives to Violence Project.
Dr. T.J. Desch-Obi is a scholar of African and African Diaspora history. He received his doctorate in African history from the University of California Los Angeles, and his research focuses on the history of African and African Diaspora martial arts, culture, spirituality, and historical ethnography. Dr. Obi regularly teaches in the departments of History, Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and Religion at the City University of New York’s, Baruch College. He is the author of Fighting For Honor: The History of African Martial Art Traditions in the Atlantic World, which won the Hines Prize for best first book on Atlantic History. His current project focuses on the nineteenth century martial tradition of Afro-Colombians and twentieth century Black and Latino prison fighting.
Elin Diamond is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Rutgers University. She is the author of Unmaking Mimesis: Essays on Feminism and Theater (Routledge 1997) and Pinter's Comic Play (Bucknell 1985), co-editor of The Cambridge Companion to Caryl Churchill (CUP, 2009) and editor of Performance and Cultural Politics (Routledge 1996). Her essays on drama, performance and feminist theory have appeared in Theatre Journal, ELH, Discourse, TDR, Modern Drama, Kenyon Review, Art and Cinema, Maska, Cahiers Renaud-Barrault, and in numerous anthologies in the USA, Europe, and India. She is currently at work on a book on mimesis, modernism, and performance.
Nevena Dutina was born in Pristina in 1988. Svetlana Djuric was born in Kraljevo in 1985. Although we both graduated in KosovskaMitrovica with an M.Sc. in Architecture, we are currently engaged in different projects - Nevena is a PhD student at the Faculty of Architecture in Belgrade, and Svetlana is the manager of an NGO. We decided to incorporate our experience into the concept of “living prison,” and to further develop Nevena’s master project ‘Urban solution of prison complex’, to enrich it with a social component.
Judy Dworin is the founder of the Judy Dworin Performance Project (1989), which provides cutting-edge dance/theater performance through its ensemble, educational residency programs, and the Bridging Boundaries arts intervention programs for those impacted by incarceration which Judy oversees. Judy is also a professor of Theater and Dance at Trinity College.
Amanda Edgar is the current Incarcerated Women’s Advocate for Family Crisis Services. Prior to her return to FCS in June 2014, Amanda served as Maine’s FASD/Drug Affected Babies State Coordinator and before that as a Community Health Promotion Specialist/Overdose Prevention Educator within the City of Portland Public Health Division’s Substance Abuse Prevention Program. During her time at the City of Portland, she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Criminology from the University of Southern Maine. Amanda has worked on behalf of vulnerable women in varying capacities since 2001 and currently provides support and advocacy to incarcerated women in both Cumberland County Jail and Maine Correctional Center. Amanda lives in Gorham, Maine with her husband and three daughters.
Nicholas Fesette, before beginning graduate study at Cornell, Fesette worked as a theatre-maker in NYC in spaces like 303 Bond St with Company XIV, Theater for the New City, HERE Arts, Incubator Arts Project, Irondale Center, and WorkShop Theater. His research interests are prison studies, political theatre, and comedy for social change. Fesette comes from a long line of NYS corrections officers and has worked with PPTG since October 2013.
Max Forman-Mullin and Julia Taylor are co-organizers of the Bar None Theater Project, and have extensive experience in leading theater programs in prisons, juvenile facilities, schools, after-school, and community settings. They are graduates of the Masters in Applied Theater at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.
Dr. Johanna Foster is Assistant Professor of Sociology/Gender Studies at Monmouth. Her research interests include race, class and gender inequalities, feminist theory, multiracial identities and inequalities, and mass incarceration. She co-founded The College Bound Consortium for incarcerated women in NJ, and the college connections program for incarcerated women in NY.
Nereida Garcia Ferraz is a painter, photographer and video maker. She graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and has exhibited work in numerous museums and galleries around the US and abroad, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City.
Annie Isabel Fukushima, Ph.D. is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow with the Institute for Research on Women and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at Rutgers University (2013 – 2015). Dr. Fukushima received her Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Currently Dr. Fukushima is revising her manuscript Migrant Crossings. She has published an array of articles and chapters on trafficking, intimacy, violence, and militarisms. Visit anniefukushima.com for more information.
Maria Gaspar is an artist engaged in transdisciplinary practices that individually or collectively mediate or occupy physical, symbolic, and socio-cultural aspects of given sites to create interventions. Currently, she leads the artistic and conceptual vision, as well as the structural and programmatic development of a series of temporary arts projects regarding the Cook County Jail and perimeter, in partnership with Enlace Chicago.
Angus Kress Gillespie is a Professor of American Studies at Rutgers University. A Yale University graduate, and a New York Times bestselling author, he has written several books and numerous articles. A cultural historian, Gillespie's work often deals with the cultural implications of heroic works of civil engineering.
Dean Gillispie graduated high school in 1984 and started working at GM. He went to Sinclair College in Dayton OH for fire science technology (for his job as fire safety and plant protection). He became involved in a long-standing vendetta with his supervisors (because he got the job and their buddy didn't). They went to their friends at the police department and had him set up with a cold case (all in the book False Justice by Jim and Nancy Petro, former Attorney General of Ohio). He was found guilty of Rape, Kidnaping, Robbery and sentenced to 22 to 56 years. He was the first case the Ohio Innocence Project out of the University of Cincinnati took after he fought alone for the first ten years. Ten years later and after OIP took his case, he was released by the Federal court on Dec. 22, 2011. The case was thrown out after he did 20 years in prison for crimes he did not commit. He now fishes with his dad almost every day and speaks for the Ohio Innocence Project.
Rowana Grady was raised in the Southend of Hartford, CT. She is currently employed with the Community Partners in Action's Resettlement Program where she works with women coming out of prison struggling with multiple social problems. Believing her Bachelor’s degree was not enough, she entered the University of Connecticut's Master's Degree Program in Social Work. While finishing up her Master's degree she has become an active part of the Judy Dworin Performance Project (JDPP). She says JDPP is life changing because it brings a message of hope and sheds light on the social issues ex-offenders face that more often than not lead individuals back to the streets. Her goal is to become a child therapist in hopes that she can prevent behaviors that lead to incarceration. Finally Rowana is a licensed cosmetician; she enjoys making people look and feel beautiful. Rowana says she's giving back, reaching back, and no turning back.
Dr. Dana Greene is an associate professor in the Criminal Justice Department at New Mexico State University. She is currently working on a photo-documentary book of New Mexico’s prisons. Dana came to the study of punishment from a history of street activism and is deeply committed to applying her work beyond the academy.
Jeffrey Greene is the Program Manager for the Community Partners in Action (CPA) Prison Arts Program. The CPA was initiated in 1875 as the Connecticut Prison Association to assist in the reform of both prisoners and prison management. The Arts Program was established in 1978 in collaboration with the CT Department of Correction. The 2014 Annual Show featured over 650 artworks from 140 inmates. Mr. Greene has been with the Prison Arts Program since 1992, working with thousands of incarcerated artists and curating over 200 exhibitions. He has developed long term collaborative projects with both the CT Department of Education and the Department of Public Health leading to numerous publications and programs that incorporate the artwork, thoughts and experiences of inmates into the state’s high school curriculums. When not on the job, he draws and writes songs in Boston, Massachusetts.
Donna Gustafson is the Andrew W. Mellon Liaison for Academic Programs and Curator at the Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers University and a member of the graduate faculty in Art History. Her publications and exhibition projects at the Zimmerli include at/around/beyond: Fluxus at Rutgers, Rachel Perry Welty 24/7, Water, and Lalla Essaydi: Les femmes du Maroc. She is a coauthor with Susan Sidlauskas of Striking Resemblance: The Changing Art of Portraiture (Prestel, 2014) and the author of George Segal in Black and White: Photographs by Donald Lokuta (forthcoming), Amelia and the Animals (Aperture, 2014), Almost Human: Dolls and Robots in Contemporary Art (Hunterdon Art Museum, 2005), and Images from the World Between: The Circus in Twentieth-Century American Art (MIT Press, 2001). She has published reviews and articles, presented papers, and organized symposia and panels on a variety of contemporary art topics. She received her PhD in Art History from Rutgers University.
Fakhri Haghani. Professor Fakhri Haghani teaches comparative and transnational history of the Islamic, Middle Eastern, and Iranian cultures at Rutgers. She has taught courses with wide-ranging scopes in methodologies, key theoretical debates and issues of representation and identity in pre-modern and modern West Asia and North Africa. Her research interests explore the intersection of gender, aesthetics, popular culture and performing arts, and politics from the standpoint of visual cultures. Dr. Haghani holds an advanced degree in Art History from Facolta di Magistero at University of Rome (Sapienza) in Italy, M.A. in Women’s Studies and a Ph.D in History from Georgia State University.
Michelle Handelman is a filmmaker and visual artist who creates provocative works that are confrontational and visually seductive. Her films have screened at Georges Pompidou Centre, Paris; Institute of Contemporary Art, London; American Film Institute, Los Angeles; MOMA, San Francisco, and dozens of gay and lesbian film festivals throughout the world. Her performances have been featured at PERFORMA 05, the first biennial of visual art performance; Exit Art, NYC and Participant, Inc, NYC. Handelman is the director of the ground-breaking documentary "BloodSisters" (Bravo Award) and has received numerous grants and awards including a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship and New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for her project "Irma Vep, The Last Breath"; a
Rockefeller Fellowship and a MAP fund grant from Creative Capital. Her video installation on transgender inmates "Beware The Lily Law" has been on display for three years at Eastern State Penitentiary, Philadelphia. She is an Associate Professor in the department of Film, Media and Performing Arts, Fashion Institute of Technology, New York City.
Jillian Hernandez, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Ethnic Studies Department and Critical Gender Studies Program at the University of California-San Diego, independent curator, and community arts educator. Her research centers on racialization, sexualities, embodiment, girlhood, and cultural production ranging from hip hop to visual and performance art.
Aileen Hongo is a geriatric social worker who has facilitated creative therapy and healthy aging workshops for older adults in California prisons since 2006. Creative arts provide a therapeutic means of coping with the despair, depression, and trauma of incarceration for the most vulnerable population behind bars.
Rachel Hoppenstein and Ann Marie Mantey are occupational therapists who, during their final semester of graduate school, created a movement based program for women in prison. Both women practice yoga as an art form to express creative energy.
Aaron Hughes is an artist, teacher, organizer and Iraq War veteran, whose work seeks out poetics, connections and moments of beauty in order to construct new languages and meanings out of personal and collective traumas. He uses these new languages and meanings to create projects that attempt to deconstruct systems of dehumanization and oppression.
Tracy Huling works at the convergence of culture and politics with a long history of using story-telling strategies and new media technologies to achieve social change. She is currently the Founder/Director of the Prison Public Memory Project (prisonpublicmemory.org), using art, public history, community dialogue and story-telling to engage people from all walks of life in conversation and debate about the role of prisons in society and in our local neighborhoods. She is also a Soros Justice Fellow with the Open Society Foundations working on a new project, Yes, In My Backyard (yesinmybackyard.org) examining and spreading best practices in prison closure and adaptive reuse in the United States. Tracy is based in the Hudson Valley region of New York. She can be contacted at:
Aliya Hana Hussain is an Advocacy Program Manager at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR), a non-profit legal and educational organization committed to the creative use of law as a positive force for social change. In 2002, CCR brought the first legal challenges to the indefinite detention of men imprisoned in Guantánamo and continues to represent numerous detainees to this day. Aliya has made several trips to Guantánamo to meet with clients, and uses storytelling, art, and film to amplify their voices in CCR’s public education and advocacy efforts to close the prison.
Tom Isler is a graduate of Yale University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School. From 2012-14, he served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. He currently is the McCormick Legal Fellow at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Arlington, Va.
Carol Jacobsen is a social documentary artist/activist/writer and Professor of Art, Women’s Studies and Human Rights at the University of Michigan. Her work, addressing issues of women’s criminalization, human rights and censorship, has been shown worldwide, often sponsored by Amnesty International; and her writings published in art, law and women’s studies journals. She serves as Director of the Michigan Women’s Justice & Clemency Project, and is represented by Denise Bibro Gallery in New York.
Shani Jamila is an artist, traveler and the Director of the Urban Justice Center’s Human Rights Project. Her career and studies have taken her to more than thirty five countries over five continents. A Fulbright fellow with over a decade of directorial experience in the social justice sector, Shani has spoken at global gatherings like the United Nations Commission on Human Rights in Switzerland, the Association for Women’s Rights in Development in Turkey and the World Social Forum in India. Her international experiences deeply inform her work as a photographer, collagist and creative writer. She has exhibited or performed at institutions including the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, the Phillips Gallery, Rush Arts, Corridor Gallery, Le Poisson Rouge, Busboys & Poets, Ohio University, the City College of New York and as one of the Bearden 100. Her writing has been published in the Huffington Post; Harlem Fine Arts Show magazine; Race, Class and Gender; Black Renaissance Noire; Sometimes Rhythm, Sometimes Blues; Colonize This!; Of Note magazine; Global Connections to a Cultural Democracy; and The Encyclopedia of Sociology.
Ronak K. Kapadia is assistant professor of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. An interdisciplinary cultural theorist of race, sexuality, and empire, Kapadia previously held a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Ethnic Studies at UC Riverside. He received his PhD in American Studies from NYU in September 2012. Kapadia is completing his first book, The Sensorial Life of Empire, an interdisciplinary study of contemporary visual and performance art practices and their critical intersections with the logics and tactics of US counterinsurgency warfare. With Simone Browne and Katherine McKittrick, he is co-editor of the forthcoming special issue of Surveillance & Society on race and surveillance.
Anne D. Katz, Ph.D., L.C.S.W. is a Clinical Professor, of Social Work at the USC School of Social Work. For the past 24 years she has also been the Co-Director of the USC Tingstad Older Adult Counseling Center. Her research interests include: Aging in Prison, HIV/AIDS and older adults, women's issues and aging, caregiver stress, and counseling older adults. Dr. Katz is currently supervising the "Healing Squad" a program that provides social work interns a rare opportunity to go inside a California prison and work in a therapeutic environment with elderly inmates, a much neglected and vulnerable population. The workshops that the healing squad offer incorporate techniques that instill hope and healing through multi-dimensional art therapy that are designed to provide a safe, non-judgmental arena for inmates to express unconscious and conscious defenses, promote disclosure and diminish symptoms without verbal interpretation. She is a strong advocate for the rights of inmates aging in prison. Dr. Katz received her Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Southern California in 1978; Masters Degree in Social Work from San Diego State University in 1981 and was licensed in clinical social work in 1984; and received her Ph.D. in Social Work in 1992.
Sean Kelley has run all public programming at Eastern State Penitentiary since 1995. He has curated more than 70 artist installations at the site, and is currently focused on exhibits and programming to address the enormous growth in the US prison population. He visits active prisons, writes critically about prison museums/ sites of detention, and speaks on the responsibility of museums to address painful subjects. He oversees Eastern State’s haunted house event, which generates the majority of the organization's budget.
Reuben Kenyatta is a freelance artist and Marine Corp veteran from the Vietnam era who recently completed 11.5 years of confinement as of April 23, 2014. As an aspiring artist who dwells in the colorful world of fine art, his medium of choice is acrylic, where he seek to "mix, match, and stack" inspired ideas onto canvases. Over the years he has integrated art into his life as a means of financial support, stress management, and to encourage positive solutions about social concerns. His work has been featured as a cover page for the text book: Social Organization of Work (Randy Hodson, Teresa Sullivan 2012) and he has been recognized at both the state (Senator Phil Arthurhultz, Majority Floor Leader, May 31, 1985) and federal level (U.S. Representative Guy Vander Jagt, August 15, 1990) for his art and social work within the community. He holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Spring Arbor University 1990 and is a member of the Lansing Council of The Arts, VetBiz Central/Small Business Development Center, and the Prison Creative Art Project (PCAP)- Linkage program at the University of Michigan. Reuben presently resides in Lansing, Michigan where he's engaging plans for the off-start Wild Wolf Fine Art Studio. To contact or see his art, go to the website: http://www.kenyatta.com or email:
Bonnie Kerness earned a Masters in Social Work and has served as a human rights advocate on behalf of men, women and children in US prisons since 1975, as Director of AFSC’s Prison Watch Program. She has served as Associate Director and Acting Director of the AFSC Criminal Justice Program in Newark, the National Coordinator of the Campaign to Stop Control Unit Prisons and served on the Board of Directors of the World Organization for Human Rights, USA. Bonnie serves on the Advisory Board of California Prison Focus; Critical Resistance; Women Who Never Give Up, and Solitary Watch. She has helped publish, “Our Children’s House”; the pamphlet from which a play by the same name was written and has been performed. She has also helped publish “Torture in US Prisons – Evidence of US Human Rights Violations;” “The Prison Inside the Prison: Control Units, Supermax Prisons and Devices of Torture,” the Survivor’s Manual” and “Inalienable Rights: An AFSC Resource Guide.” Ms. Kerness speaks widely at universities, community spaces and religious institutions on behalf of people in prison about US human rights violations of the UN Convention Against Torture, and on the history and current state of mass imprisonment in the US. She has written and been quoted in articles, books and other publications on prison related subjects.
Phyllis Kornfeld has been teaching creative art to incarcerated people for over thirty years. Her programs are ongoing and some participants have been in her art workshops continuously for as long as 10 years. At present, she conducts weekly workshops at two Connecticut men's prisons and one Massachusetts county jail. Kornfeld is the author of Cellblock Visions: Prison Art in America, (Princeton University Press), and a contributor to Art Education Beyond the Classroom. (Palgrave MacMillan). She has published essays and articles, and lectures widely. Her Cellblock Visions Permanent Collection of drawings, paintings, and 3D objects created by her workshop participants tours university art galleries. She is the founder of several public projects whereby prison artists donate their artwork to benefit people in need. The Envelope Project: Incarcerated Men and Women Making Art for a Cause sold hundreds of original pieces of envelope art from six institutions at the Outsider Art Fair in NYC.
Jesse Krimes. Philadelphia-based artist and returning citizen Jesse Krimes holds a BA in Studio Art from Millersville University. In 2009, he was indicted by the U.S. government on non-violent drug charges, labeled a "drug kingpin," and sentenced to a 70-month prison term. While incarcerated, he produced Apokaluptein:16389067, a vast multi-panel work, established prison art programs, and worked collaboratively with fellow inmates. Jesse's work Purgatory, also created in prison, will be included in the exhibition Le bord des mondes at Palais de Tokyo in Paris from February-May 2015. His visual poetry project, Apocrypha:16389067, realized in prison, will be published in The New School’s MFA Creative Writing Program’s LIT Journal in October 2014. Jesse will debut an art installation at Philadelphia’s Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site in May 2015. His work is currently on view at the Zimmerli Museum, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ until December 14th.
Julie Gayer Kris, Artistic Director of Avodah Dance since 2004, has been teaching and performing dance and movement for over 20 years. She has led and coordinated dance residencies and workshops in women’s prisons, universities, community and religious centers, as well as diverse educational spaces. As a teaching artist and artist fellow with LABA, a Jewish house of study for culture makers at the 14th Street Y (2009-2014) in NYC, Julie integrates text study to create dance events and performance pieces. Her work involves intergenerational performances that include professional dancers as well as those with no dance training to make movement and dance accessible to all. Her focus is to help people connect with their bodies and minds in a way that is engaging, playful and revealing. Julie is also a certified yoga instructor from the American Viniyoga Institute and holds a B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) from Rutgers College.
Joseph Lea holds a law degree and Connecticut teaching and Library Media Specialist certificates as well as a Masters Degree in Applied Theater. He has worked as an educator at York CI for 20 years and more recently as a visiting professor at Trinity College and JDPP Board President.
Helen Lee is a PhD Candidate in English at University of North Carolina. She works in the field of Rhetoric and Composition and is currently writing her dissertation on rhetorics of social protest. Specifically, my research looks at writings and speeches by African American and Chicano prison-activists in order to investigate the US prison as a site of important civil rights struggle.
Ron Levine is a commercial and fine art photographer splitting his time between New York and Montreal. His documentary work has earned him international acclaim, resulting in solo exhibitions in Australia, Ireland and Mexico as well as the United States and Canada. His editorial work has been seen in Travel & Leisure, The New York Times, ESPN Magazine and Forbes and he has won awards from Communication Arts, PDN, Applied Arts and How Magazines. He is the recipient of numerous grants and his work can be found in museums and private collections.
Bruce Levitt (Facilitator/Documentary Producer) is Professor of Theatre, professional director, and former chair of the Department of Theatre, Film & Dance (now Performing and Media Arts) at Cornell University. His teaching specializes in Shakespeare, devised performance, and solo performance. He has traveled to Auburn weekly for nearly five years to collaborate with PPTG. Levitt collaborated with the members of PPTG in the creation of autobiographical performance pieces that called upon their own experiences as well as the techniques taught by other facilitators. The result was a ninety-minute performance piece, Inside/Out, which was presented for an invited audience at Auburn Correctional Facility in April 2011. In 2011-2012 he facilitated an exploration of various texts from Shakespeare along with the creation of original texts that reflected on both the Shakespeare selections and the life experiences of the members of PPTG. Maximum Will was performed in April of 2012 at Auburn Correctional facility before an invited audience and its development and performance is the basis for the documentary Where the Walls Contain Everything but the Sky. The group expanded its membership in 2013 and in May of this year performed their third original piece titled, An Indeterminate Life. PPTG is now in the process of training new members that joined last month. Levitt holds a Ph.D. in Theatre from the University of Michigan.
Damon Locks is a visual artist and vocalist operating in the Chicago area since 1988. As a visual artist he began his schooling at SVA in NYC as an illustration major. He transferred to The School of The Art Institute in Chicago where he received his BFA in Fine Arts. His visual work often revolves around people and their landscape; the narrative themes of protest, unrest, and tension are woven throughout. The processes used to reach these ends are a combination of, but not limited to: drawing, photography, digital manipulation and silk screening. In recent years, he has been lending his artistic talents to organizations such as Prisons and Neighborhood Arts Project, the Center for Urban Pedagogy and the Jane Addams Hull House Museum. The collaborations have allowed him to explore more directly engaged ways of making work.
Ashley Lucas is Associate Professor of Theatre & Drama and the Residential College as well as Director of the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) at the University of Michigan. She holds a B.A. in Theatre Studies and English from Yale University and a joint Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies and Theatre and Drama from UC San Diego. She is a fellow of the Ford Foundation, the UNC faculty Engaged Scholars Program, and UNC's Institute for Arts and Humanities. Her research and teaching interests include U.S. Latina/o theatre, prison-related theatre, theatre for social change, and related topics in acting, playwriting, and comparative ethnic studies. Lucas is also the author of an ethnographic play about the families of prisoners entitled “Doin' Time: Through the Visiting Glass,” which she has preformed as a one-woman show throughout the U.S. and Ireland and Canada. Lucas is currently working on the book manuscript for the Methuen Critical Companion on Prison Theatre, which analyzes performances form the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, and Brazil.
Deborah Luster is best known for her long-term photographic documentary series, One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana and Tooth for an Eye: a Chorography of Violence in Orleans Parish. (Both monographs published by Twin Palms Publishing.) Her awards include a 2013 Guggenheim Fellowship; a 2014 residency at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, a Dorothea Lange—Paul Taylor Prize, and an Anonymous Was a Woman Award. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, and other notable public and private collections. Deborah lives in New Orleans and Galway, Ireland.
Ojore Lutalo is an artist who was released from Trenton State Penitentiary August 26th, 2009 by way of a court order. He maxed out after 28 years, 22 of which were spent in the Management Control Unit (Solitary Confinement). In order to keep his sanity during his internment, Ojore abided by a strict regimen of physical exercise, mediation and study. Over the years Ojore was asked repeatedly to describe the conditions that he faced on a daily basis. These requests ranged from simple curiosity as to the physical particulars of his cell and surroundings to the profound emotional pressures and struggles associated with long term solitary confinement. Ojore began creating his art both as a way to maintain his sanity and to more adequately convey to his friends the physical and emotional reality he experienced within solitary confinement. Since his release is 2008, Ojore dedicates himself to assisting the American Friends Service Committee in its attempt to expose the true nature and extent of long term isolation, its effect both on the prisoner individually as well as society at large.
Tom Magill Tom Magill is an ex-prisoner who transformed his life through arts education while in prison for violence as a teenager. Tom reflects upon this experience in a chapter: ‘Transgression and Transformation’ in Outerspeares: Shakespeare, Intermedia, and the Limits of Adaptation, edited by Daniel Fischlin, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2014). Upon release he earned a B.A. (Hons) in Drama and Theatre Studies and an M.A. in Cultural Studies. He is an award-winning ﬁlmmaker, drama facilitator, actor, writer, director, and producer. He specializes in utilizing Augusto Boal’s “Theatre of the Oppressed” methodology and the works of William Shakespeare in transforming community and prison settings. In 1999 he co-founded the Educational Shakespeare Company (ESC) to develop drama and ﬁlm with prisoners and ex-prisoners. (www.esc-film.com) In 2007 he directed Mickey B, an award-winning feature ﬁlm adaptation of Shakespeare’s Macbeth cast with prisoners from Maghaberry maximum-security prison in NI. He received the 2011 Justice in the Community Award (from the NI Department of Justice), the 2008 Roger Graef Award for Outstanding Achievement in Film at the Koestler Awards (for Mickey B), and other Koestler and Impetus Human Rights awards for his short films.
Ann Marie Mantey and Rachel Hoppenstein are occupational therapists who, during their final semester of graduate school, created a movement based program for women in prison. Both women practice yoga as an art form to express creative energy.
Shadd Maruna, Ph.D. is the Dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers-Newark. He has considerable experience working with prison arts groups, including with the late Mike Moloney at the Prison Arts Foundation in Northern Ireland and the Changing Tunes organization in England. His book Making Good: How Ex-Convicts Reform and Rebuild Their Lives, exploring how former prisoners re-write their self-narratives in an effort to reintegrate after prison, was named the Outstanding Contribution to Criminology in 2001.
Vanessa A. Massaro is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Geography at Bucknell University. Her research focuses on the way spatially-segregated racial minorities, particularly African Americans, navigate the intersection of racism with broader forces of economic injustice brought by the globalization of the capitalist economy. Her dissertation work examined the materialization of the global drug trade as local practice through attention to the daily experiences of the links binding informal to formal economies, illegal to legal activities, and the local to the global in the drug trade.
Kathleen Mccollough, Kathleen (Katie) is a PhD candidate in media studies at Rutgers University. She also works with the Institute for Women’s Leadership at Rutgers on their Women, Media & Tech initiative, and is a seminar fellow at the Institute for Research on Women at Rutgers for 2014-2015. Katie also works on Rutgers Media and the Public Interest initiative where she is working on a project to access the news needs of local New Jersey communities. Her dissertation uses ethnographic methods to study what scrapbooks tell us about craft, femininity and labor in the United States today.
Erica R. Meiners is the author of Right to be Hostile: Schools, Prisons and the Making of Public Enemies (2009). Her forthcoming book titled Intimate Labor explores how conceptions of childhood were integral to the build up of a prison nation.
Karen Anne Melendez, LPC, NCC, MT-BC, an Advanced Trainee in BMGIM, started the music therapy program with special needs inmates at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in NJ in 2005. She is author of “Adult Females in Correctional Facilities” from Guidelines for Music Therapy Practice in Mental Health Care (2013).
Becky Mer is an investigative caseworker at the California Appellate Project and Co-Manager of the Prison Arts Coalition. She has worked with youth in Abu Dhabi and Turkey, supported sex workers and prisoners in Israel/Palestine, organized for statewide drug policy reform in Rhode Island, and completed international research on prison arts in the UK. Becky attended the University of Oxford and Brown University, where she volunteered in a student prison arts program.
Anoop Mirpuri's current research explores the relationship between the history of racial capitalism, the radical prison movement in the postwar U.S., and mass incarceration. He is working on a book manuscript entitled Articulations of Violence: Race, Punishment, and the Ends of Capital. He is currently Assistant Professor of English at Portland State University. He is also currently the co-convener of the American Studies Association's Critical Prison Studies Caucus.
Richard Mora is an Associate Professor of Sociology at Occidental College. He received his Ph.D. in Sociology and Social Policy from Harvard University, and his primary research interests are masculinity, youth, and schooling. With Mary Christianakis, he has co-authored articles and chapters on the school-to-prison pipeline, the representation of urban youth in the media, the criminalization of youth, and juveniles tried as adults. Together, they are conducting research on juvenile justice and for the past four years have co-taught creative writing to boys held in a juvenile detention facility.
Jedd Murr is Assistant Professor of American and Ethnic Studies, Global Studies, and Cultural Studies at University of Washington, Bothell. His current work focuses on US racial formation in a global context and the ways in which histories of violence circulate in and help to shape contemporary cultural productions and common sense. This labor is informed by years of organizing with the Race/Knowledge Project collective at the University of Washington Seattle.
Jaso Nomo is an American artist and returning citizen. He is an abstract conceptualist working in various materials that speak to his past incarceration of 180 months within the federal prison system. Nomo's aim is to confront society with images to highlight the redeemable aspects of the human condition, with a focus on dismantling the preconceived subtext that things 'disregarded' can never have worth.
Dr. Eleanor Novek is an Associate Professor of Communication whose research focuses on communication in prisons, nonviolence, qualitative research, service-learning, and outsider journalism. She teaches courses in civic journalism; ethics; gender, race and media; peace communication; and research methods. She is state coordinator for Alternatives to Violence Project, a nonprofit that offers workshops on nonviolent conflict resolution.
Beth Ohlsson, MA, is a storyteller, an addictions counselor, and a person in long-term recovery. She works with vulnerable populations in MD detention centers and local health departments using story and storytelling as a vehicle for recovery, building self esteem, re-framing one's experiences, healing, and instilling hope.
Dr. Ferris Olin is a Distinguished Professor Emerita at Rutgers University, and was Co-Founding Director (with Judith K. Brodsky) of Rutgers Institute for Women and Art and The Feminist Art Project. She also established the Miriam Schapiro Archives on Women Artists as well as the Margery Somers Foster Center, a resource center focused on documenting women’s leadership in the public arena, and served as Associate Director of the Institute for Research on Women and earlier, Director of the Rutgers Art Library. She was curator of the Mary H. Dana Women Artists Series from 1994-2005 and then from 2006-2014 was its co-curator with Judith K. Brodsky. Olin is the author of numerous articles on topics as diverse as women’s material culture to art librarianship as well as many exhibition catalogs, the most recent of which was Fertile Crescent: Gender, Art, and Society—documenting a festival of seven exhibitions and over 55 events that took place in fall 2012 focused on women artists, writers, scholars, and performers from the Middle East.
Marge Parsons is a volunteer with Prisoners Revolutionary Literature Fund, and a supporter of Revolution newspaper and the BA (Bob Avakian) Everywhere movement. She is also a poet, lives in Chicago, and works in the arts.
Janie Paul is an artist and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the Stamps School of Art & Design at the University of Michigan. A graduate of Bennington College, she received an M.A. in painting from Hunter College and a PhD. in Art Education from New York University. Since 1996, she has been pivotal in the development of the Prison Creative Arts Project, facilitating visual workshops in prisons, teaching classes in which her students facilitate art workshops in prisons and juvenile facilities, and co-curating the Annual Exhibitions of Art by Michigan Prisoners. She is currently writing a book about the incarcerated artists of Michigan, the significance of their work and the PCAP exhibitions that have nurtured them. Her work as a visual artist has been influenced by the close connections she has developed with prison artists and their culture and traditions.
Susanne Pitak Davis is an artist and art therapist with over 30 years of experience in the field. During her career, she has worked with populations across all age ranges and currently runs groups with inmates in the mental health care unit of New Jersey State Prison while maintaining a private practice.
Courtney Polidori was inspired by her work teaching college literature in a women’s maximum-security prison for one year. She developed and teaches a writing course at Rowan University called Incarceration Generation. Her article about prison teaching will be published in Transformations in Spring 2015 and her creative non-fiction work was published in Four Quarters in April 2014 in an issue about breaking silences. Since she began prison teaching in 2013, Polidori has delivered presentations at the American Literature Association conference in Washington, DC, Princeton Monthly Meeting, Haddonfield Monthly Meeting, the Princeton New Jim Crow READ-OUT, South Atlantic Modern Language Association, and American Literature Association conference in Boston. Polidori graduated from The College of New Jersey with an MA in English in 2013. Bucks County Community College, where Courtney has taught writing and literature since 2011, recently selected her to receive two honors; she is a recipient of the Outstanding Part-Time Faculty Award in April 2014 and will be a participant in the Faculty Lecture Series for the college’s 50th anniversary. She will deliver her presentation, titled “Knowledge is the New Black,” on April 2, 2015.
Arnold Raimondo was born in 1950 in New York City. He served in Vietnam, US Army 173rd Airborne Division. He has been incarcerated for 33 years and will be up for parole in 2031. He is serving a 50 year to life sentence. Arnold is 64 years old. "I always thought I could draw, but I never realized that I could do it well. Growing up, artistic endeavors were never encouraged in my family. In 2004, I saw a picture in 'Heavy Metal' magazine and I felt the urge to see if I could duplicate it. After some trial and error using a ruler and pencil, I produced a reasonable facsimile. I was pleased with the results, surprised at how satisfying it was and how I had become absorbed in the process of producing a piece of art. I then decided to try painting. I bought books on water colors and pastels and I taught myself to work in these mediums. Before long, the Correction Officers in my block began to notice my paintings and asked me if I would like to try to paint a mural. Since that time, I have painted some murals on the walls of this prison. Around 2008, I began to work in oils because I wanted to leave something permanent for my family to have. I don't consider myself an artist because I have not reached a level of expertise or knowledge befitting of someone professionally trained. All I know is that I love doing it.”
Mónica Ríos is a Phd candidate and author. Her research takes on Latin American film and literature to understand how they intervene in historical and social processes, and their implications for a society that systemically erases the modes of relation imagined by minorities. She is the author of the novel Segundos (2010) and Alias el Rocío (2014), and is one of the creators of the publishing collective Sangría Editora /Sangría Legibilities. She also teaches Hispanic literature and gives creative writing workshops.
Gilberto Rivera, a Puerto Rican native, raised in Brooklyn NY. As a child he always loved art but didn't understand his calling until he crossed a path that led him with a sentence of 20 years. While doing his time he taught himself how to escape in his artwork, as he moved from prison to prison he met other artists that opened his mind to many new ideas and mediums that were available. He has had shows at Little Berlin Gallery in Philadelphia and Focal Point Gallery City Island (Bronx). He was released from prison in February 2013. If you would like to view some more of his artwork hit he up on Instagram Rivera_G_054.
Michael Rockland is a Professor of American Studies at Rutgers University. His early career was in the diplomatic service, about which he has written in one of his fourteen books. Michael has won six major teaching and lecturing awards, including the national teaching award in American Studies. He has lectured in some twenty-three countries overseas. Recently, he received the Governor Richard J. Hughes award for "a lifetime of contributions to New Jersey history and culture."
Sarah Ross is an artist whose projects use narrative and the body to address spatial concerns as they relate to access, class, anxiety, and activism. She works collaboratively on projects such as Compass Collaborators, Chicago Justice Torture Memorials and the Prison and Neighborhood Arts Project.
Gregory Sale has produced long-term large-scale projects bringing together disparate constituencies of the criminal justice world. In 2011, Sale’s It’s not just black and white consciously wrestled with the visual motifs and clichés of crime (striped jumpsuits, pink underwear, and even brown skin) that Arizona’s infamous Sheriff Joe Arpaio has manipulated for political advantage. Sale is now undertaking a series of projects focused on the challenges of individuals reentering society after periods of incarceration. With support from a 2013 Creative Capital grant and an Art Matters grant, this series will bring together diverse and even opposing constituents for extended periods of time in order to reconsider their understandings of re-entry and their relationships to one another. Sale is assistant professor of intermedia and public practice at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.
Ann Schwartzman has worked with the Pennsylvania Prison Society during two time frames. During the '80s and '90s, she served as the Director of Advocacy. In 2005 she rejoined the Prison Society as the Inmate Family Services Program Manager. Currently, she coordinates the Prison Society's direct services programs and its work on policies and issues. Ms. Schwartzman holds a BA from Rutgers University and an MSW from Temple University and has 20 plus years of experience in the field of criminal justice program management, training and facilitation, and advocacy and public policy. Additionally, Ms. Schwartzman has managed numerous programs for the US Department of Justice and has developed workshops for the National Institute of Corrections.
Sylvia Schwenk’s practice looks at the relationship between performance and the everyday, reflecting upon the significance and beauty of commonplace activities and spaces. Sylvia is an artist of international standing who performs and exhibits her work in Europe, the USA, India and Australia. She is the recipient of numerous commissions, awards, grants, artist-residencies and scholarships, and her works are held in numerous public and private collections, including a recent acquisition by Stanford University.
Dr. Deanna Shoemaker is Associate Professor of Communication/Performance Studies at Monmouth University. Her research and performances focus on feminist, activist, and community-based performances as well as representations of gender, race, class, and sexuality in popular culture. She is a facilitator-in-training for the Alternatives to Violence Project.
Jen LaChance Sibley of Outreach Services Director for Family Crisis Services, has over 14 years of experience working with victims of domestic violence. Jen oversees the incarcerated women's advocacy program that provides psycho-educational support groups for women incarcerated at Cumberland County Jail and Maine Correctional Center; a court advocacy program for the county as well as a nationally recognized Enhanced Police Intervention Collaboration initiative with partnering law enforcement agencies. She has presented on the issue of programming for women incarcerated at numerous events including the 2013 Adult and Juvenile Female Offender Conference.
Rachel M. Simon is a poet and adjunct professor of writing, gender studies and film at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, SUNY Purchase College, and Pace University. Her books of poetry include Theory of Orange and Marginal Road. She’s currently working on a collection of sports poems.
Duston Spear has been an exhibiting artist-activist in New York since 1982, with works in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan, Brooklyn and Weatherspoon Museum at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro where her papers and the original 3 Women in Black dresses are housed in the University’s Special Collections, ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duston_Spear). Spear has been teaching art in the College Program at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for 13 years. She started a production company to make short films that promote activism through art. Her first film ‘Red Thread: the prisoner and the painter’ is a project of the New York Foundation for the Arts, it received a grant in Film and Electronic Media from the New York State Council for the Arts (2013) and support from the Puffin Foundation. It is being distributed by IndiePix Films. (
Bianca Spriggs is an Affrilachian Poet and Cave Canem Fellow. She is an award-winning author and multidisciplinary artist from Lexington, Kentucky. Bianca is currently a Ph.D candidate at the University of Kentucky and serves as Managing Editor for pluck! The Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture.
Jenny Stasio is currently the Residential Services Director at Family Crisis Services. Prior to this position, she worked as the Incarcerated Women's Advocate at Family Crisis Services for three years. Jenny graduated from Bates College in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and recently received a master’s degree in Social Work from Boston College. Jenny is passionate about working to empower women and is particularly interested in domestic violence and female incarceration.
Lorenzo Steele Jr. exhibits photographs across New York City that he took during his work as a correctional officer deep in Rikers Island. At church groups, in parking lots, in schools, and during summer community days, Steele brings graphic imagery directly to multiple generations within the catchment area of Rikers. Steele’s presentations are accompanied by a number of workshops on conflict reconciliation, criminal justice and community.
Victoria Steele presently works at River Valley Services as a peer support specialist. She completed the CCAR Recovery Coach Academy as well as University of Recovery. She has worked behind the scenes on the Capitol Voices TV Show hosted on local TV. She also volunteers her time for CCAR as an outreach speaker who presents at area treatment centers. Her mission is to help educate and remove some of the stigma associated with mental illness and prison. Victoria has completed the Projects for Addiction and Cultural Competency Training (PACCT) through DMHAS Multicultural Affairs and earned her Counselor and Training certification. Since April of 2013, she has performed with Women On Our Own (WOOO), an artistic outreach performance group conceived by Judy Dworin with musical direction by singer/songwriter Leslie Bird promoting social justice.
Kyes Stevens is the founder and director of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project at Auburn University. Beginning in 2001 through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Department of Justice, Stevens has worked to develop APAEP into a broad reaching arts and educational program for people incarcerated in Alabama. Stevens earned her MA and MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. She has been awarded a fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the Lillian E. Smith Artist in Service Award, among others. She tries to find time to continue to write and rescues lots of cats.
Mark A. Strandquist is an artist, educator, and community organizer. He directs the ongoing project, Windows From Prison, where he works with communities to create photographs requested by prisoners (“If you could have a window in your cell, what place from your past would it look out to?”). After sending images to the corresponding prisoners, the photographs are exhibited and expanded upon through extensive public programing that brings students, policy makers, former prisoners, and many others together to engage with the causes, effects, and alternatives to mass incarceration.Since its initial iterations in the fall of 2012, Windows From Prison has expanded into interactive exhibits in various states, a national postcard-exchange program (including hundreds of prisoners who responded to the question: “If you could create a window in the prison walls, what would you want the world to see?”), a high school curriculum that connected incarcerated teens and high school students (produced alongside Georgetown University’s street law clinic), and various public installations that have brought thousands of individuals together with prisoners across the country.www.windowsfromprison.com.
Jon-Christian Suggs is emeritus professor of English in the Ph. D. Program in English and at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, has published books on African American literature and law and on American proletarian cultural history as well as essays and chapters in other books, print and on-line, in both those areas.
jackie sumell is a multidisciplinary artist and Soros Justice Fellow whose work speaks to both traditional artist communities and those historically marginalized from the political process. Ms. sumell's work has been exhibited extensively throughout the US and Europe, including The Royal College of Art, The Luggage Store Gallery, Artists Space NY, deYoung Museum, ZKM Karlsruhe, and Dublin County Museum. Her work was a center piece for the 2008 US Biennial, Prospect 1, the 2010 St Etienne Design Biennial, and Nancy Solomon's Westobou Festival 2012. She has been the recipient of several residencies and awards. Ms Sumell has published 2 artist books A=AGHT (2010) and The House That Herman Built (2006/2008) which documents the extraordinary collaboration with long-term solitary confinement prisoner and Black Panther, Herman Wallace. Their collaboration was featured by the New York Times, Art Forum, Newsweek, Citizen K, Domus, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, Der Speigel and most recently as the cover/ feature of Afterimage Journal. Her work with Herman Wallace inspired the award winning documentary Herman's House by filmmaker Angad Bhalla. She received a B.S. from the College of Charleston, and M.F.A. from Stanford University. She is adjunct faculty at Dillard University.
Michele Lise Tarter is Professor of English at The College of New Jersey. She has published and presented extensively on early American women’s writing. Her first book, a coedited volume, is titled A Centre of Wonders: The Body in Early America (Cornell UP, 2001); and her second, focusing on the voices of early American prisoners, is titled Buried Lives: Incarcerated in Early America (University of Georgia Press, 2012). In 2001, Dr. Tarter established a memoir-writing program in New Jersey’s only maximum-security prison for women, and this very successful program has been running ever since.
Julia Taylor and Max Forman-Mullin are co-organizers of the Bar None Theater Project, and have extensive experience in leading theater programs in prisons, juvenile facilities, schools, after-school, and community settings. They are graduates of the Masters in Applied Theater at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.
Curt L. Tofteland is the founder of Shakespeare Behind Bars, an internationally acclaimed personal transformation program which combines art, theatre, and the works of William Shakespeare to create Restorative Circles of Reconciliation within which incarcerated and post-incarcerated individuals seek to manifest transformation. SBB is celebrating its Twentieth Anniversary. SBB has fifteen programs in Michigan and Kentucky prisons. SBB is the subject of Philomath Films award-winning documentary which began its life at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and traveled to more than forty film festivals around the world winning eleven awards. Curt has thirty-six years of professional theatre experience as a producing artistic director, actor, director, playwright, program developer, teacher, artist-in-residence, and workshop facilitator. He is a published essayist and poet. Additionally, he is the recipient several awards for his work as a prison arts practitioner, including two Fulbright Fellowships in Australia, a Petra Fellowship, a Creative Fellow at the University of Auckland, and a
Doctor of Humane Letters from Bellarmine University.
Fereshteh Toosi is a multidisciplinary artist who collects and recombines sounds, words, images, and actions. Her socially engaged creative work ranges from community-driven oral histories to guerrilla interventions in public places. Fereshteh is a member of Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project and on the full-time faculty at Columbia College, Chicago.
Suzanne Uzzilia is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the CUNY Graduate Center and an adjunct lecturer in English at LaGuardia Community College, CUNY. She has published reviews in sx salon and the Philadelphia Review of Books. Her research focus is contemporary Caribbean women’s literature.
Kevin Veal Aka "M.C." was born and raised in a two-parent household along with his sister in the city of Mount Vernon, N.Y. His parents Virginia and Ronald Veal knew from birth he was blessed with the gift to create, as he started writing and reciting poems/lyrics and drawing from the tender age of seven, which earned him the nickname M.C. (Master of Creativity). After graduating high school he attended Bronx Community College majoring in graphic design. Despite his confined disposition he continues to hone his craft as a visual artist in graphite lead and oil paint and his love for the arts grew deeper. All his drawings and paintings are designed and created with poetic expression. He wants his art to serve as an influence or inspiration for humanity and beyond, especially underprivileged children so they can follow their hearts and accomplish their goals and dreams despite whatever circumstances life may seem to throw their way.
Carolina Villalba is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English at the University of Miami (FL) and Managing Editor of Anthurium: A Caribbean Studies Journal. She specializes in African-American, ethnic, and immigrant literatures. Her dissertation, ‘...Here in My Own Dark World’: Transforming Space and Self in Contemporary American Prison Literature, examines how the prison memoirs of Jimmy Santiago Baca, Leonard Peltier, and Assata Shakur illustrate the criminalization of the American underclasses and trouble traditional conceptions of freedom, justice, and citizenship.
Sean Saifa Wall is an intersex activist currently residing in Atlanta, GA. He is the creator of EMERGE, a concept design that documents and reaffirms Black life with visual artistry. Saifa has worked in HIV prevention for over ten years and is an integrated community organizer, somatic student practitioner and researcher.
Anya Wallace is currently a doctoral student at Penn State University in Art Education and Women’s Studies. Her research interests center on the intersection of art theory, social justice, literature, and women’s health, and combined with photographic field study document social activism related to Black female youth.
Kathy Wyatt was a resident at York CI and is now Volunteer Coordinator for CCAR (Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery). She is published in the prison anthology, I’ll Fly Away. Recently she was the narrative voice in JDPP’s Meditations from a Garden Seat which premiered in CT and was featured at The KO festival at Amherst College.
Treacy Ziegler began creating exhibitions of her art in maximum-security prisons after having spent 20 years of exhibiting in commercial galleries – seeking a different audience. She conducts ongoing prison art workshops in various states. In addition, she has a network of 2300 prisoners throughout US with whom she develops through-the-mail-art projects.
Samantha Zimbler is a poet and activist. She graduated from The College of New Jersey with a B.A. in English. She received a Phi Kappa Phi Student-Faculty Research Award for teaching at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women. Zimbler currently works as a marketing associate at Oxford University Press.
This program is made possible by a grant from the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.
This program has also been made possible by generous support from the Puffin Foundation Ltd.
Prison Obscura is a traveling exhibition curated by Pete Brook and made possible with the support of the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities and Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery at Haverford College, Haverford, PA.
Co-Sponsors: Alfa Art Gallery; American Friends Service Committee’s Prison Watch Program; Art Library-Rutgers New Brunswick; Associate Campus Dean of Douglass Residential College; Center for Social Justice Education and LGBT Communities; Department of American Studies, Rutgers-New Brunswick; Heldrich Hotel; Institute for Women and Art, Mountainview Program; New Brunswick Public Library; Office of the Chancellor of Rutgers-New Brunswick; Office of the Executive Dean of the School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers-New Brunswick; PUEG Center at UNAM (National University of Mexico); Rutgers-Camden Center for the Arts; School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers-Newark; University of Michigan’s Prison Creative Arts Project; William James Association; Zimmerli Art Museum at Rutgers-New Brunswick.
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FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC.