Exhibitions

Between the Lines: Prison Art & Advocacy

Between the Lines: Prison Art & Advocacy
Between the Lines: Prison Art & Advocacy

Between the Lines: Prison Art & Advocacy


October 3, 2021 - July 17, 2022

Through a combination of in-gallery objects and multimedia pieces, as well as public conversations and events held at the museum and in the community, this exhibition addresses themes of incarceration, social justice and prisoners’ rights, recidivism and transitional justice. Works featured in exhibition are drawn from the Museum’s extensive collection of prison art alongside recently acquired art - including pieces made during workshops at the Metropolitan Detention Center (MDC) in 2017, pieces purchased at the state Penitentiary’s bi-annual Inmate Craftsmanship and Trades Fair in 2019, and a mural created by at-risk-youth through a school-to-prison pipeline initiative https://www.sitesofconscience.org/en/2018/01/brown-v-board-to-ferguson-toolkit/  program between MOIFA and Santa Fe ¡YouthWorks! in 2018. The exhibition further explores strategies helping underserved populations so that they may avoid future incarceration and examine how the arts can be a catalyst for healing, rehabilitation, and change.

In addition to objects, this exhibition will ground itself in community input and dialogue. Themes that emerged from the conversation-based Pipline initiative wil be explored (derived from an all-women dialogue series at MDC, MDC paño and poetry workshops, and interrelated ¡YouthWorks! dialogues and art making sessions). Community members will be brought into the conversation for exhibit development and post-opening events. Collaborators include the Gordon Bernell Charter School (who facilitate in-prison education), SAR and the Santa Fe Youth Detention Center, the Santa Fe Dreamers Project, and the Coalition for Prisoner’s Rights.

Video and photography will be used in the gallery to help elucidate exhibition themes and tell individuals’ stories through their own words, whenever possible. Newly created media will include interviews with artists, returned citizens, and community organizers (profiling how related organizations respond to these issues and work to transform their communities), as well as Northern New Mexican locals sharing their perspective on the infamous 1980 New Mexico State Penitentiary Riot.

As is customary with the Gallery of Conscience, related community programs will run throughout the course of the exhibit, potentially generating new art which will also be shown in the gallery.

Djan Shun Lin, Eagle, York County Prison, Pennsylvania, United States, ca. 1994. Paper, paint. IFAF Collection, Museum of International Folk Art (FA.1995.3.1).

Paper sculptures made from recycled magazine pages demonstrate a paperworking tradition found in prisons and detention centers. The eagle above was made by a Chinese refugee who was aboard the ship Golden Venture which ran aground in New York in 1993. Lin and other refugees who were aboard the ship were detained at York County Prison in Pennsylvania for nearly four years. Many made folded paper sculptures to pass time in prison and to give as gifts to their pro-bono lawyers.