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States of Incarceration

Exhibition and Story Exchange Explores History, Future of Mass Incarceration

September 2 to October 11, 2017

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY (August 22, 2017) — On September 2, States of Incarceration, the first national traveling multimedia exhibition and coordinated public dialogue to explore the history and future of mass incarceration in the United States, opens at the Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College. Skidmore partnered with the Humanities Action Lab, a coalition of 20 university and college public history and documentary studies programs affiliated with the New School, and worked with over 500 students and formerly incarcerated individuals across the U.S. to create the traveling exhibition, which launched in New York City in April 2016.

The exhibition and project, the culmination of two years of planning and discussion between the communities, is a national public reckoning with one of the most pressing issues facing our country. Using many tools of truth and reconciliation processes, the twenty communities explored the deep historical roots of incarceration, shared personal stories related to the issue, and strategized ways of enacting policy change.

In each location, the traveling exhibition and public programs focus on an issue of incarceration unique to that community. Skidmore students, working with Professor Eric Morser starting in the fall 2015 course "Adventures in Public History: The Prison Project," focused on Mount McGregor prison, closed by state officials in 2014.

They interviewed men who were convicted of a variety of crimes, as well as prison staff and others. They collected images and artifacts, and toured and photographed the prison. Morser says the project "gave us a great opportunity to talk about how public historians conduct their research, the choices they have to make, and how they present their findings." He also said, “America has been engaged in a heated and emotional dialogue about these issues. Hopefully this exhibit will help foster the discussion."

During the exhibition, open from September 2 through October 11, the following series of public programs will allow for discussions and explorations of issues surrounding incarceration in the United States:

Thursday, September 14, 7 p.m.
After Incarceration: Stories from Those Who've Lived It
Tang Teaching Museum, Somers Room
David Karp (Skidmore Sociology Professor) moderates a panel with Sheila Rule, Jasmyn Storey ’15, and Frank Zarro for a discussion of community and restorative justice. Reception to follow.

Friday, September 15, Noon
States of Incarceration Gallery Talk
Tang Teaching Museum, Payne Room
Join Eric Morser (Skidmore History Professor) and student organizers of States of Incarceration for an introduction to the exhibition and their work on the impact of Mount McGregor’s Rehabilitation Program.

Thursday, September 21, 7 p.m.
Kekla Magoon: Behind the Headlines
Gannett Auditorium, Skidmore College
Join young adult author Kekla Magoon for a reading and lecture on understanding the impact of race and bias on individuals and communities. Magoon is the author of eight young-adult novels including How It Went Down, the story of a sixteen-year-old African-American male gunned down by a white policeman and how people struggle to make sense of the shooting. 

Thursday, September 28, 7 p.m.
Stories That Speak to Us: A conversation with Piper Anderson and Sylvia Ryerson
Davis Auditorium, Skidmore College
Join Piper Anderson, founder of the Mass Story Lab, and documentarian Sylvia Ryerson as they discuss the power of storytelling as an instrument of justice.

Saturday, September 30, 9 a.m.
Mass Story Lab: What is Prison For?
Murray-Aikins Dining Hall, 2nd floor, Skidmore College
Work alongside community members to collaborate on creative strategies to strengthen communities while improving our criminal justice system. Reservations required. Email mdocs@skidmore.edu.

Saturday, September 30, 2 p.m. States of Incarceration Gallery Talk
Tang Teaching Museum, Payne Room
Join Eric Morser (Skidmore History Professor) and student organizers of States of Incarceration for an introduction to the exhibition and their work on the impact of Mount McGregor’s Rehabilitation Program.

Saturday, September 30, 3 p.m.
Rikers: An American Jail Screening and Q&A
Tang Teaching Museum, Somers Room
Join us for a screening of the Bill Moyers-produced documentary on Rikers and a discussion with former Rikers cellmates Johnny Perez and Damian Stapleton. Reception follows. 

Thursday, October 5, 7 p.m.
Poetry Lab with Cara Benson, Johnny Perez, & Sean Dalpiaz
Tang Teaching Museum, Atrium
Join Cara Benson, a Skidmore graduate who offered poetry classes for eight years at Mount McGregor, for an evening of poetry and discussion. Former students Sean Dalpiaz and Johnny Perez join her. 

Friday, October 6, 6:30 p.m.
Accelerator Series: Mass Incarceration and the Prison Industrial Complex
Tang Teaching Museum, Atrium
Join Tang Curator-at-Large Isolde Brielmaier as she moderates a discussion with Harvard historian Elizabeth Hinton, artist Duron Jackson, and activist Johnny Perez on the subject of mass incarceration, ideas of mobility and immobility (social, economic, political), and the prison industrial complex. 

More information can be found online at http://tang.skidmore.edu.

About the exhibition

States of Incarceration is organized for the Tang Teaching Museum by Rachel Seligman, Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs, Tang Teaching Museum, and Eric Morser, Associate Professor of History, Skidmore College.

Student curators for the Tang Teaching Museum iteration of the show: Sarah Coburn, James Donnelly, Leila Farrer, Wyatt Hackett, Peter Howes, Sophia Inkeles, Claire Joffe, George Lubitz, Meaghan McDonald, Matthew Marani, Katherine Melland, Danny Meyers, Tessa Murphy, Maya Obstfeld, Emily Rizzo, Isaac Selchaif, Dorothea Trufelman, and Samuel Wallman.

The exhibition is supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Skidmore College's Project VIS, the Skidmore College History Department, and the John B. Moore Documentary Studies Collaborative at Skidmore College, which also provided technical support and oral history training.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, National Endowment for the Humanities, Whiting Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Mellon Foundation and TenLegs.

More information about the national traveling multimedia exhibition States of Incarceration and coordinated public dialogue to explore the history and future of mass incarceration in the United States can be found at http://statesofincarceration.org.

About the Humanities Action Lab

States of Incarceration is a project of Humanities Action Lab. The Humanities Action Lab (HAL) is a coalition of 20 universities, led by The New School, working with issue­based organizations and public spaces to foster new public dialogue on contested social issues, through public humanities projects that explore the diverse local histories and current realities of shared global concerns. Universities partnering in States of Incarceration are Arizona State University, Brown University, DePaul University, Duke University, Indiana University­Purdue University Indianapolis, Northeastern University, Parsons Paris, Rutgers University­Newark, Rutgers University­New Brunswick, Skidmore College, The New School, University of California, Riverside, University of Connecticut, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Miami, University of Minnesota, University of New Orleans, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, University of Texas at Austin, and Vanderbilt University.

About the Tang Teaching Museum

The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College is one of the country's foremost teaching museums. It defines itself as a space for the interdisciplinary exploration of ideas and representation, particularly with regard to humanistic and sociopolitical concerns, and is a key space in which to address Skidmore College's strategic goals in the areas of diversity, integrative learning, and community engagement. This project provides the Museum with the opportunity to realize its values of teaching and experimenting with modes of object-based learning; thinking critically about artists and artworks, and how meaning is created; and reintroducing under-represented artists and archives to our community, the larger world of art, museums, and the history of art.

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