States of Incarceration


April 3, 2016 - April 24, 2016

Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries

National Exhibition Launch: Thursday, April 14, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
The Auditorium, Alvin Johnson/J.M. Kaplan Hall, 66 West 12th Street, Ground Floor
Conversation between Glenn Martin and Venida Browder

Opening Reception: to follow the National Exhibition Launch, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, 66 Fifth Avenue, Ground Floor

Please R.S.V.P. for the launch event and opening reception here.

States of Incarceration reflects a process of dialogue and discovery among over 500 students and people directly impacted by incarceration in 20 cities. They grew up in a United States that incarcerates more of its people than any country in the world, and than it ever has before. They witnessed new bipartisan consensus that the criminal justice system is broken, but deep debate over how to fix it.

In 2015, they came together to ask: how did this happen? What can we learn from the past? How can we shape what happens next? To answer these questions, they examined their own communities’ histories of incarceration. 20 local teams each created one piece of this nationally traveling exhibition, from Angola’s slave plantation-turned-prison in Louisiana, to the legacies of the Dakota Wars for Native American incarceration in Minnesota, to immigration detention at Ellis Island and Elizabeth, New Jersey. Through historic photographs, recent journalism, audio and video interviews, data visualization, and artwork, participants brought their local stories of incarceration to bear on the national dialogue. Together, they created a diverse genealogy of the incarceration generation, and a challenge to shape what happens next. The exhibition makes its national debut at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center before traveling to the 19 other participating cities.

For its staging in New York City, the exhibition includes a focus on Rikers Island, the city’s jail complex. Between boroughs in the East River, off a runway of LaGuardia Airport, on the Q100 bus route, connected by a sole bridge, Rikers demonstrates the contradictions of visibility and invisibility that define mass incarceration. Titled “In Plain Sight”, the segment was developed through coursework and in research and consultation with members of the Fortune Society, a resource agency for returning citizens that helps incarcerated or formerly incarcerated people to become positive, contributing members of society.

States of Incarceration is presented by the Humanities Action Lab. HAL is a collaboration of 20 universities, led by The New School, working with issue based organizations and public spaces to foster new public dialogue on contested social issues, through public humanities projects that explore the diverse local histories and current realities of shared global concerns.

In addition to the exhibition, The New School is also hosting a national launch event and a two-day conferencesurrounding this project.

HAL partners include: Arizona State University (Public History); Brown University (History); DePaul University (History); Duke University (International Comparative Studies); Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (Public History and Museum Studies); Northeastern University (History); Parsons Paris (Art and Design History and Theory); Rutgers University-Newark (Arts, Culture, and Media); Rutgers University-New Brunswick (American Studies & History); Skidmore College (History); The New School: School of Public Engagement (History) and Parsons (Art and Design History and Theory); University of California Riverside (Public History); University of Connecticut (History and Digital Media and Design); University of Massachusetts Amherst (Public History); University of Miami (Civic and Community Engagement); University of Minnesota (History); University of New Orleans (History); University of North Carolina at Greensboro (History); University of Texas at Austin (Architecture); and Vanderbilt University (Philosophy).
For more information on the HAL partners please visit the HAL website.

The following New School programs helped create the exhibition:  
Parsons School of DesignMFA Program in Design and Technology;  School of Art and Design History and TheorySchool of Art, Media, and Technology; and School of Constructed Environments.
Schools for Public EngagementBachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer Students;Global Studies ProgramMilano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy;  and School of Media Studies.
Eugene Lang CollegeJournalism and Design and Theater.

This project was made possible in part by:  Institute of Museum and Library Services,National Endowment for the HumanitiesWhiting FoundationOpen Society Foundations, and TenLegs.

Support from The New School provided by: Executive Dean’s Office, New School for Public EngagementBachelor’s Program for Adults and Transfer StudentsSchool of Art, Media, and Technology, Parsons, and the Zolberg Institute for Migration and Mobility.

View Past Exhibitions

Pan African Space Station (Radio Pop Up)

October 23, 2019 - November 19, 2019

Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries

Otherworldly: Performance, Costume and Difference

November 15, 2019 - December 15, 2019

Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries

Museum of Capitalism

October 30, 2019 - December 10, 2019

Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Gallery

Being Bare: 2019 MFA in Photography Thesis Exhibition

August 8, 2019 - September 8, 2019

Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries