Art museum

Two main exhibitions focus on mass incarceration at MSU Broad Art Museum


Michigan State University’s Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum currently has two main exhibits that focus on the problems created by mass incarceration in the United States.

The exhibits approach mass incarceration from the perspective of current and former incarcerated individuals, with pieces focusing heavily on the root causes of incarceration and the struggles individuals face within the prison system.

“Some of these works reflect on this system of mass incarceration; some of the works, people remember bits and pieces of their life – the good times and the bad times in their lives; some of them escape in different ways, ”said Michelle Word, director of education at the Broad Museum. “Here we see these different people using art in a space of well-being, using art in a space of empowerment. But then, we as viewers have this opportunity to look at these individuals like that – individuals, like what they really are, don’t we? Our brothers, our sisters, our mothers, our dads, our neighbors, the people of our communities. And I think that’s what’s really amazing for me to see this work.

The Free Your Mind: Art and Incarceration in Michigan exhibit features artwork by current and former inmates inspired by four key topics: the length of Michigan prison terms as well as overcrowding issues, the impact of incarceration on women, incarceration of young people and the dangers of COVID. -19 for inmates.

It combines the work of three major projects, all involving free artists collaborating with incarcerated artists.

The other main exhibition, Per (sister): Incarcerated Women of the United States, explores the root causes of mass incarceration in the United States through art inspired by interviews with 30 formerly incarcerated women from Louisiana.

The work seeks to raise awareness of the critical issues that impact women before, during and after incarceration through stories of “loss, hope, despair, survival, triumph and perseverance”.

The plays provide powerful and honest portrayals of incarcerated life for American citizens through a wide variety of mediums.

“You know, we really hope that by looking at mass incarceration through art, we can encourage people to, you know, stand up and be part of a larger conversation,” Word explained.

“I think it’s really good to be able to really see a side of what we don’t talk about in society in terms of high incarceration rates especially among people of color and I think that’s really powerful.” , second year in political science and public policy. Devin Woodruff said: “Mostly seeing people’s stories and seeing it on art, and it really allows you to see a different point of view which I think is sometimes missed.”

Both exhibitions will be on display until December 12, 2021. The Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 am to 6 pm and offers free admission to the public.

Tickets are available both at the visitor services desk and online in advance. Visitors are required to wear a mask.

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