- Select portraits by Monica Lundy from her Women of San Quentin series
- Select portraits by Evan Bissell from his collaborative What Cannot be Take Away: Families and Prisons Project
Please join us in continuing this conversation, inspired by the history and present life of Alcatraz.
We Players is seeking a couple additional volunteers to help things run smoothly on Saturday, April 9th. If you're available in the morning for final set up, and/or to help as an audience guide in the afternoon, please reply to email@example.com and let us know.
OUR PARTICIPATING ARTISTS:
Monica Lundy’s paintings reveal the evolution of mug shots within the California prison system. She is a frequent visitor to the Sacramento archives and researches how the correctional system files and categorizes a civilian into the prison population. Her displayed artwork, excerpts from her Women of San Quentin series, shows the evolving efficiency of mug shots - a penalty that reduces personal history to a number, date, and a crime. Monica is interested in the immense social history that catalogues those who have passed through institutional systems and out of memory. She presents this interest through a method of painting that is a kind of entropy; she allows the image to build itself through the natural movement of mediums, alluding to decay and the degrading walls of old institutions. She frames a unique moment of transformation through her paintings of fresh prisoners, first introduced into the system, and subsequently passed out of memory.
Evan Bissell engages in collaborative art making, utilizing creativity to access unseen realities and generating creative expressions of personal and community truths. His contributions to this exhibition, a portion of the larger project What Cannot Be Taken Away, were created in partnership with multiple programs of Community Works West. Evan worked collaboratively with a group of prisoners and an unrelated group of youth who have parents in prison, facilitating dialogue between the two groups on the impact of incarceration on families, and developing large-scale self-portraits of each of the eight participants. Over a five month period, through writing, art making, audio conversation and meditation, each participant began to clarify the impact of the prison system on their identity and sketch out ideas for their final portraits, ultimately painted by Evan. The symbols and compositions, designed by the participants and Evan, represent reflections on transformation. The collaborative act of creating these portraits revealed a deep understanding of how prison affected the individual’s concept of self and what it means to change, for each individual involved with the project.
We Players Gallery Curator, Patrick Gillespie, will engage these artists and other special guests in a panel discussion on transformation of identity, restorative justice, and the methodology of state produced inmate portraiture. This gallery opening includes informal conversation and guided walks from the ferry to the cell house gallery with We Players producers Ava Roy and Lauren Dietrich Chavez.
The National Park Service and We Players are in the third year and final phase of their monumental collaboration on Alcatraz Island. This groundbreaking partnership has utilized site-specific performing arts programming to provoke critical thought and stimulate conversation on the themes of incarceration, isolation, justice and redemption. In addition to engaging the visiting public through site-specific rehearsals and performances, We Players and the National Park Service are creating lasting and transferable tools that use performance elements to augment Ranger interpretation.
After presenting a modern adaptation of the Greek Oresteia in 2009 and a traveling performance of Hamlet in 2010, this final year includes several performance events and gallery installations intended to draw connections between the Alcatraz themes and current realities of incarceration, isolation, justice and redemption in the Bay Area and beyond.