We Players on Alcatraz Gallery Event #2
Join us on April 9th for the gallery unveiling, hear statements from the artists, and engage in a panel discussion with We Players, Evan and Monica, and restorative justice practitioners.
Meet at Pier 33. Check in at We Players registration table between 12:45 and 1pm.
REMEMBER - DON'T MISS THE BOAT!
Because reservations are free we find that, even if reservations fill, there are usually some spaces available on the day of our events. If you would like to join us, but don't have a reservation, please come to Pier 33 between 12:30-12:45 to put your name on the waiting list.
The exhibition explores the Alcatraz themes through the lens of identity, specifically looking at how the prison system frames the identity of prisoners, and influences personal identity for prisoners, their families, and others who have not had a direct relationship with incarceration. The transformation of identity, restorative justice, and the methodology of state produced inmate portraiture are the primary themes for the exhibition.
Visual arts and the prison system both produce symbolic representations of individuals. Correctional symbolism can be viewed as a form of disciplinary action, reducing the color, depth and personality of an individual’s identity to an anonymous number. Visual art has its own use of symbolism that allows identities and personal experience to become legible, and move into public concern.
About our collaborating 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 participant. 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 a guided walk 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 beginning 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.
We Players on Alcatraz 2011 season and this gallery exhibit is supported by
We Players presents site-integrated performance events that transform public spaces into realms of participatory theater. We bring communities together, reclaiming local spaces for public discourse and civic celebration through art. Extending the transformative powers of performance beyond the stage, we invite our collaborators and audience to engage fully and awaken to the spectacular world around us.
The National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the national park system for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.
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