NATION’S LARGEST EXHIBTION OF PRISON ART CELEBRATES 16 YEARS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN

15 Mar

Image: Count Time by Alan Compo Norberg

The Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) presents the presents the Sixteenth Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners. Running from March 22 – April 6, 2011, the show will be held at the Duderstadt Center Gallery on the University of Michigan North Campus at 2281 Bonisteel Boulevard.  Over the past 16 years, this nationally recognized show has grown to be the largest exhibition of prisoner art in the country.  This year’s exhibition will include more than 300 works of art by over 200 artists, shedding light on the talents to be found behind prison walls and encouraging the public to take a second look.

Free and open to the public, the exhibition and surrounding educational events raise awareness and inspire dialogue between the incarcerated and the community at large. The public is invited to an opening reception on March 22nd from 5:30 – 8 p.m. in the gallery.  Formerly incarcerated artists who have now re-entered into the community will speak about what the show means to those in prison.

Participating artists express gratitude to organizers and gallery visitors alike, stressing the show’s impact on their lives and the community at large.  “I believe that your program gives the public a glimpse into the type of things that inspire even the most downtrodden of us all” writes one artist. “When people see our work, for a few moments, they forget that this work was done by a felon, but by another human being.  A human being who has the same thoughts, emotions, and inspirations as they do, and for that one moment, a major social and political barrier is shattered.”

Despite limited resources, exhibition artists create work in a rich range of styles, mediums, and themes.  Visitors return to the show year after year to glimpse art that is remarkable for its originality, beauty, and sheer expressive power.  Last year, over 4,000 people came to the exhibit.  Organizers expect even higher attendance this year and an exciting array of new work.

This year’s exhibition, curated by Professors Buzz Alexander, Janie Paul, and Jason Wright, exhibits work from over thirty prisons throughout the state.  The curators, PCAP Administrators La Shaun phoenix Moore, and Sari Adelson, along with various volunteers travel to these prisons to hand select the strongest work from the artists. As a result of this annual event, the amount of art created in Michigan prisons has increased dramatically, and Michigan prison artists have become national leaders, inspiring others to create art behind bars.

The exhibition is to be accompanied by the release of the 3rd Annual Literary Review of Creative Writing by Michigan Prisoners.  Readings of works from the publication by formerly incarcerated individuals are set to take place both in Ann Arbor and in the Detroit area, and youth from Detroit will join us for a dialog about what’s on their minds, as they speak about their lives and their communities.

Schedule of Events

Tuesday, March 22
Opening Reception
Join the Prison Creative Arts Project as we celebrate the opening of the 16th Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners. Formerly incarcerated artists, and Curators Buzz Alexander, Janie Paul, and Jason Wright, will address visitors to the gallery at 6:15 p.m. Free and open to the public.
5:30-8:00 PM, Duderstadt Center Gallery, 2281 Bonisteel Blvd., Ann Arbor MI

Thursday, March 24
Keynote Address- Kathy Boudin
Join the Prison Creative Arts Project, join us as Kathy Boudin, Professor at Columbia University, delivers a keynote speech addressing the history of mass incarceration, the current incarceration crisis in the United States, and the directions that need to be taken to make a difference in a talk entitled, “Women and Men; Overcoming Dehumanization, Becoming Agents of Change”.
7:30-9:00 PM, Vandenberg Room, Michigan League, 911 N. University, Ann Arbor, MI

Saturday, March 26
Film Screening: All-Day
All-Day is a 3-D animation/experimental documentary video project, made in collaboration with Justin Gibson, who in 2000 was convicted of the murder of his grandmother and was sentenced to life at a Michigan State Correctional Facility.  The project aims to tell his fictional interpretation of the story of his crime and ensuing incarceration.
3:00-5:00 PM, Room 3222 Angell Hall, 435 S. State Street, Ann Arbor MI

Sunday, March 27
Artist Panel
Join us as a panel of formerly incarcerated artists discuss works in this year’s show and the process of creating art behind bars. The event is moderated by U of M’s School of Art and Design Professor, Janie Paul.
3:00-5:00 PM Duderstadt Center Gallery, 2281 Bonisteel Blvd., Ann Arbor MI

Tuesday, March 29
Michigan Forecast: The New State Regime
Join us for a panel discussion about the challenges facing the Michigan Department of Corrections’ with a new governor and Republican officials in office.  Panelists will include a representative from the American Friends Service Committee, a U of M Professor and two U of M graduate students.
7:30-9:00 PM, Michigan Room, Michigan League, 911 N. University, Ann Arbor, MI

Thursday, March 31
Families of the Incarcerated Panel – What Family and Home Really Mean
Join the Prison Creative Arts Project along with a panel returning citizens and family members of incarcerated artists discuss the transition of being home after being inside, the differences between prison families and their families at home and the idea of family reunification in this powerful event.
7:30-9:00 PM, Vandenberg Room, Michigan League, 911 N. University, Ann Arbor, MI

Monday, April 4
Anthology of Creative Writing by Michigan Prisoners Release Celebration
This anthology, titled I’ve Somehow Swallowed the Night, showcases poetry, short stories, and essays from extraordinary prison writers across the state of Michigan.  At the celebration, we will have the honor of hearing many of the pieces featured in the book read by either the artists themselves or their families. We will have the opportunity to celebrate the phenomenal writing as well as our community of artists on the inside and out. The event is free and open to all.
7-9 pm, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Helmut Stern Auditorium, 525 South State Street Ann Arbor, MI

Wednesday, April 6
Closing Reception
5:30 – 8:00 PM, Duderstadt Center Gallery, 2281 Bonisteel Blvd., Ann Arbor MI

Exhibition hours are 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday, and 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday – Monday.

PCAP Poster ’11

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