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Incarceration exhibit displays DePaul's social justice identity

A poster from Special Collections and Archives' exhibit,
A poster from Special Collections and Archives' exhibit, "INCARCERATION: Art, Activism & Advocacy." (Image courtesy of Special Collections and Archives)
The current exhibit in Special Collections and Archives showcases DePaul's commitment to service and the dignity of every person through a display of items related to incarceration in the United States. Installed in January, "INCARCERATION: Art, Activism & Advocacy" highlights collections and materials from both prisoners and advocates on the outside. Exploring the exhibit offers visitors the opportunity to see how several individuals address a complex topic and gain an introduction to the types of community items that DePaul collects and preserves.

Numerous incarceration topics and initiatives are addressed in the exhibit. The Sister Helen Prejean papers contain significant material about incarceration and the death penalty. The exhibit shares a letter and artwork from executed prisoner Pat Sonnier, as well as a brochure from Sr. Helen's victims' advocacy initiative, Survive. 

Prisoners' reaction to prison conditions and the prison industrial complex are displayed through the Anthony Rayson's zines and prisoner artwork. Rayson is an activist and author who runs the South Chicago ABC Zine Distro. Also featured are videos and promotional materials for the nonprofit organization, Companions Journeying Together. The organization connects incarcerated women and their children through recorded readings of books that are sent home to enable a child to hear their mother's voice while engaging with literature.

Many artistic mediums also are on display in the exhibit. A book features Daniel Berrigan's writing and Thomas Lewis' artwork created while in prison for burning draft cards during the Vietnam War. Video, artwork and theater programs introduce the viewer to Rick Cluchey and the San Quentin drama program. The walls of the exhibit present original artwork from prisoners utilizing paint, pencil and collage. Also, a published book of poetry from the Women, Writing, and Incarceration Project presents the writings that incarcerated women created in DePaul classes at Cook County Jail. 

In an effort to further connect DePaul and local detention facilities to the larger topic of incarceration, an entire exhibit case is dedicated to ongoing DePaul initiatives at Stateville Prison and Cook County Jail. Along with a few historical materials from these state and city institutions, this case spotlights DePaul's Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program through the Steans Center, as well as the DePaul student group Students Against Incarceration. Both efforts meet prisoners on the inside, providing educational support and bridging communities. 

"INCARCERATION: Art, Activism & Advocacy" will be on display through the summer of 2018.  Visitors are welcome anytime Special Collections and Archives is open, Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm, in Room 314 of the John T. Richardson Library.