States of Incarceration

A National Traveling Exhibition and Story Exchange Project Exploring the History and Future of Mass Incarceration

A “National Dialogue of Local Stories,” States of Incarceration is the first national traveling exhibition and coordinated public dialogue to explore the history and future of mass incarceration in the United States. Organized by the Humanities Action Lab at The New School and a coalition of 500 university students and formerly incarcerated individuals from twenty cities, the show launched in New York City in April 2016.

The exhibition and project, the culmination of two years of planning and discussion between the communities, is a national public reckoning with one of the most pressing issues facing our country. Using many tools of truth and reconciliation processes, the twenty communities explored the deep historical roots of incarceration, shared personal stories related to the issue, and strategized ways of enacting policy change.

In each location, the traveling exhibition and public programs focus on an issue of incarceration that is unique to that community. Skidmore College students, working with Professor Eric Morser in the fall 2015 course “Adventures in Public History: The Prison Project,” focused on Mount McGregor prison, closed by state officials in 2014.

The medium security facility had a long history of creative rehabilitation. In the 1910s, it was a tuberculosis sanitarium; after WWII, it welcomed convalescing veterans. As a prison it developed the state’s first Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment program. As the War on Drugs increased prison populations in the 1980s, and state politicians cut funding for carceral programs in the 1990s, teachers, counselors, and prisoners themselves empowered incarcerated men to change their lives. Programs provided incarcerated men with support to survive and thrive; ironically, many lost access to such support upon release.

States of Incarceration Public Events

Thursday, September 14, 7:00 pm at the Tang
After Incarceration: Stories from Those Who’ve Lived It

Friday, September 15, Noon
States of Incarceration Gallery Talk

Thursday, September 21, 7:00 pm in Gannett Auditorium
Kekla Magoon: Behind the Headlines

Thursday, September 28, 7:00 pm in Davis Auditorium Stories That Speak to Us: A conversation with Piper Anderson and Sylvia Ryerson

Saturday, September 30, 9:00 am in Murray-Aikins Dining Hall, 2nd floor
Mass Story Lab: What is Prison For?

Saturday, September 30, 2:00 pm at the Tang
States of Incarceration Gallery Talk

Saturday, September 30, 3:00 pm at the Tang
Rikers: An American Jail Screening and Q&A

Thursday, October 5, 7:00 pm at the Tang
Poetry Lab with Cara Benson, Johnny Perez, & Sean Dalpiaz

Friday, October 6, 6:30 pm at the Tang
Accelerator Series: Mass Incarceration and the Prison Industrial Complex

Exhibition Name
States of Incarceration
Exhibition Type
Student Curated
Faculty Curated
Group Exhibitions
Payne Room
Sep 2, 2017 - Oct 11, 2017
States of Incarceration is organized for the Tang Teaching Museum by Rachel Seligman, Assistant Director for Curatorial Affairs, Tang Teaching Museum, and Eric Morser, Associate Professor of History, Skidmore College. Student curators for the Tang Teaching Museum iteration of the show: Sarah Coburn, James Donnelly, Leila Farrer, Olivia Frank, Wyatt Hackett, Peter Howes, Sophia Inkeles, Claire Joffe, George Lubitz, Matthew Marani, Katherine Melland, Daniel Meyers, Maya Obstfeld, Isaac Selchaif, and Samuel Wallman.
Student Staff
Leila Farrer
Student Advisory Council
Past related events
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