Insiders’ Voices: Art and Writing by Incarcerated Women, Youth, and LGBTQ Folks

Insiders’ Voices: Art and Writing by Incarcerated Women, Youth, and LGBTQ Folks
Montgomery Ward Gallery, 2nd Floor, Student Center East

UIC’s Women’s Leadership and Research Center and Campus Advocacy Network, in partnership with Campus programs, invite you visit the Ward Gallery’s latest exhibit, Insiders’ Voices: Art and Writing by Incarcerated Women, Youth, and LGBTQ Folks. The goal for this exhibit is to give the public an opportunity to experience the humanity of those members of our community who are, or were, incarcerated. So much of what we learn about life inside jails and prisons comes from sensational fictions in mass media that do not reveal the complex humanity of the people inside America’s prison system. Insiders’ Voices creates space for members of the public to hear what life is like inside from those living inside.

The work presented in this exhibit is all created by currently or formerly incarcerated people speaking directly to those of us outside. Their words and images convey deep feelings of isolation, pain and fear and reveal inspiring resilience, resistance and personal power. We hope people will come this is exhibit, take in the art, take home some ‘zines.

Because women represent the fastest growing prison population, and LGBT people are significantly more vulnerable to sexual assault inside prison, and because 15% of young people incarcerated within the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice reported being sexually assaulted by staff or other detainees while incarcerated, we can no longer ignore the reality that incarceration within the US prison system often makes already vulnerable members of our communities [youth, women, and LGBTQ people] more vulnerable to violence and marginalization. This exhibit sheds light on experiences of interpersonal violence within a system that is massive, yet invisible to most of us on the outside.

WLRC/CAN are hosting a series of events in conjunction with these exhibits. All events are free and open to the public.

All events will take place in the Montgomery Ward Gallery, 2nd Floor, Student Center East unless otherwise stated.

26 August 2013: Exhibit Opens to the Public – This exhibit shares art and writing by women, youth, and LGBTQ people who are currently or were formerly incarcerated in the United States. The words and images within this exhibit highlight the humanity, resilience, and hope of a population too often ignored or vilified by those on the outside. The art and writing in this exhibit explores themes including state, sexual, domestic, and emotional violence which may be upsetting for some viewers.

18 September 2013: 5:30pm – 7:30pm –The Chicago Prison Industrial Complex Teaching Collective will present an overview of the Prison Industrial Complex, its expansiveness, and its impact on communities. Immediately following, a representative from Pride Inside will speak about the impact incarceration on their life. Finally, Black and Pink Chicago will host a workshop focused on the importance of maintaining connections with incarcerated LGBTQ people through letter writing. There will be snacks.

23 October 2013: 4:30pm-5:30 – Members of Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers will discuss the intersection of domestic violence and incarceration. Light refreshments will be served.

7 November 2013: Show closes

Please contact Rachel Caidor [] at the Campus Advocacy Network for more information.


Incarcerated Youth Describe the PIC…

One of the main reasons that we created The PIC IS zine was because we wanted to try to bridge the chasm between those of us on the outside and those who are incarcerated.

We were excited to hear the voices of youth who are jailed at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center reading from the zine. Thanks to our friends at Free Write Jail Arts & Literacy Program for making this happen. We invite you to listen:

Video: U.S. Prisons Cost Us $228 Billion

2012 Blog Statistics in Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,600 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

New Zine: What Better Time Than Now?

What Better Time Than Now?” New Text on Gang Unity Available for Prison Organizing

The Chapel Hill Prison Books Collective is proud to have just published a new piece of prisoner’s writing on unity, truce efforts, and political consciousness in US gangs. The zine presents a number of interesting topics like the forming of identity through historical consciousness and revolt, the co-optation of such identity through musical and artistic forms, and the role of street gangs in the rebellions of the future.

Of particular note is the connections the piece draws between the lived experience the author, a self-identified gang member and “social” prisoner, on the one hand, and the analysis of well-known anti-authoritarian and/or anti-colonialist heads like Lorenzo Ervin, Russell Maroon Shoatz, and Frantz Fanon, on the other. Many writings of these kinds come from the pens of known “political” prisoners; we’ve been excited to correspond with and present a discussion on gang truce and prison organizing efforts from a prisoner with a slightly different background. Of particular note for this editor is the simultaneous critique of a self-destructive gang culture and the urge to use these organizations as liberating forces – this wax and wane between a tendency towards self-destruction and “constructive” rage finds reflection in a wide variety of social movements all over the globe in the last year.

Needless to say, the issues discussed here are fairly universal to the facilities all over the US, and we encourage folks around the country who do correspondence with, maintain literature distros or libraries for, or who generally support prisoners’ organizing and rebellions to print and copy these en masse. This piece joins a number of other related texts in our collection, including “No, We Can’t All Get Along” by Jeff Chang and “Liberation or Gangsterism” by Russell Shoatz, that folks are also encouraged to make use of.

Click on this link to download the zine

All Our Resources in One Place…

Now you can find all of our resources in one place. Special thanks to Collective member Lewis Wallace for spearheading the development of the PIC Is… site and also to our friend and ally Micah Bazant for designing the beautiful site (pro-bono).

You can visit the PIC Is site HERE . Please spread the word to others.

A Short Documentary About Rikers Island: This Island is Ridiculous

We recommend this documentary for its portrayal of how young people are impacted by incarceration.

The Island is Ridiculous: RIKERS Inside and Out from Muralla Media Works on Vimeo.