'Incarceration and Creation: Art as a Human Need'

·2 min read

Sep. 15—Sandy Spring Museum will exhibit "Incarceration and Creation: Art as a Human Need," a new show featuring works of art by currently or formerly incarcerated individuals, in partnership with the Justice Arts Coalition. The show runs Sept. 17 to Nov. 17 with special events throughout its duration.

Visitors are asked to consider a human being's intrinsic need for creative expression. Art can remind us of our shared humanity, of our common struggles and sacrifices, and that every one of us has unique gifts and a unique story to share. To create a work of art — a song, a dance, or a poem — within the barren confines of prison is truly a courageous and liberating act, a reclaiming of identity, of possibility, of worth, a demand to be visible.

The exhibiting artists are associated with the Justice Arts Coalition. Through the sharing of resources, stories, and learning opportunities, JAC is building a nationwide collective of people who are committed to increasing opportunities for creative expression, amplifying the voices of those most impacted by mass incarceration and shaping public dialogue around the intersection of the arts and justice.

Illustrating Death Row: From Personal to Policy Virtual will be held from 7 to 8 p.m. Sept. 30. This program focuses specifically on racial discrimination and the death penalty, with panelists Robert Dunham and Ngozi Ndulue from the Death Penalty Information Center and artist Kenneth Reams in conversation. The speakers will discuss excessive punishment in a historical and social context and how judicial practices overwhelmingly target Black men who are over-represented in prisons and on death row. Reams will share his own story of being sentenced to death while a teenager and his fight to be released from death row.

Gender Justice: Women and Prison Sentencing Virtual will be presented from 7 to 8 p.m. Oct. 22. The number of incarcerated women has been increasing at a rate 50 percent higher than men since 1980. More than 200,000 women are incarcerated in prisons and jails, and more than 60 percent of women in prisons have a child under the age of 18. What is behind these trends that not only disrupt the life of the convicted women but also the next generation? Ashley Nellis of The Sentencing Project will speak on gender justice, including the discrepancies between the sentencing of men and women. Also speaking will be artist Carole Alden, mother of five children, who served 13 years in prison for manslaughter. Panelists will also discuss how the audience can get involved to make changes at both the state and federal levels.

Sandy Spring Museum is at 17901 Bentley Road, Sandy Spring. Call 301-774-0022, email aweiss@sandyspringmuseum.org, or go to www.sandyspringmuseum.org for more information.

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