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2017 Berlind Symposium to feature artistic perspectives on mass incarceration

Berlind Symposium posterAccording to the Prison Policy Initiative, since 1980 the number of prisons in the United States has quadrupled. The American criminal justice system holds more than 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 102 federal prisons, 901 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 76 Indian Country jails, as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, and prisons in the U.S. territories.

On Oct. 20-22, the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College will hold its 26th Annual Helen Clark Berlind Symposium in conjunction with its 106th Annual Exhibition of Contemporary Art, Carceral States. The symposium and exhibition address the growing national debate about mass incarceration in America. Artists included in the exhibition are Sandow Birk, Alyse Emdur, Maria Gaspar, Duron Jackson, Mansura Khanam, Mark Strandquist, Stephen Tourlentes, Treacy Ziegler, and the Women of York.

The symposium begins Friday, Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. with a screening of the documentary 13th (2016) directed by Ava DuVernay, which offers an analysis of the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom. A discussion of the film will be led by Visiting Assistant Professor of American Culture, Noël Wolfe. The film is for mature audiences; refreshments and a cash bar will be provided.

Day two of the symposium begins at 11 a.m. on Saturday., Oct. 21 with the artist talk “Documenting Family: On the Outside” by Mansura Khanam, a visual journalist based in Brooklyn. Carceral States includes her series On the Outside, a story about those left behind when a mother is incarcerated.

Following a break for lunch, the symposium will resume at 1:30 p.m. with the lecture “Judy Chicago’s epic feminist installation, The Dinner Party” by Randolph art history professor Lesley Shipley. An icon of 1970’s feminist art and a milestone in 20th-century art, The Dinner Party installation at the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art is comprised of 39 place settings on a triangular banquet table, each honoring an important woman from history.  Inspired by The Dinner Party, in 2013 a group of women incarcerated at York Correctional Institution in Connecticut, created “Women of York: Shared Dining,” which is included in Carceral States.

After a brief coffee break, at 2:30 p.m. attendees will have the opportunity to hear from four of the Women of York: Tracie Bernardie, Kelly Donnelly, Panna Krom, and Lisette Oblitas-Cruz. The panel discussion will be moderated by Joseph Lea, retired library media specialist from York Correctional Institution, who was instrumental in facilitating the creation of “Shared Dining.” A reception will follow to mingle with the symposium scholars and artists.

The symposium will conclude on Sunday, Oct. 22 at 4 p.m. with the lecture “Food Access and Incarceration” by communication studies professor J. Nikol Jackson-Beckham. For several years, Jackson-Beckham has helped inmates at the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women earn their associate’s degrees.

Visit for a full symposium schedule. Carceral States will remain on view through Dec. 15. The Maier will hold a variety of programs related to the exhibition, including family programs, lectures, and tours. Visit for more information. During the academic year, the Maier is open Tuesday-Sunday from 1-5 p.m. Admission to the Maier and its programs are free, unless otherwise noted.

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