A View from Behind Bars
School of Theology and Ministry exhibition showcases artwork by American prisoners
An exhibition of more than 40 works of art that depict images of grief and hope created by men imprisoned in American jails and penitentiaries will open at the School of Theology and Ministry on March 15.
“Seeing the Man: Art From Behind Bars, A Vision of Restorative Justice and Healing” will be on display through April 30 in the Atrium Gallery of the STM Library, located at 117 Lake Street on Brighton Campus. The works of art are provided by Do-Right Ministries, a non-profit organization that raises awareness about the American justice system and promotes healing through art.
The exhibition is being presented by STM’s student-led Prison Ministry Initiative, which seeks to raise awareness of injustices in the US prison system and the plight of those incarcerated in it, and to promote the dignity and wholeness of those affected by incarceration. Members, inspired by the Jesuit commitment to service and justice, sponsor campus events and make regular visits to the Suffolk County House of Corrections and to Massachusetts Correctional Institutions in Framingham, Norfolk, Concord and Walpole.
“Seeing the Man” organizers say Lent, as a Christian penitential season that encourages reflection on social justice issues, is an appropriate time to launch the exhibit.
“The Prison Ministry Initiative is a response to Jesus´ call to see the women and men behind bars as who they really are: God´s beloved children,” said the initiative’s chairman, STM student Chema Segura, SJ.
The exhibition title, he added, is “a provocative invitation to the spectator: Do you see this person, this human being, as being capable of love and care? A person who is a father or mother, a son or daughter? Or is this person simply a ‘criminal’? The exhibition title is an invitation to rethink and reflect upon our broken justice system in the USA.”
A number of events are associated with the exhibition, including:
•A March 15 Mass featuring the offering of an artwork during the service
•A book and poetry reading on March 16 by novelist and former inmate Maurice Price
•A March 22 lecture on “The Criminal Justice System: Perspectives from the Bible and Catholic Social Justice Imperatives” by STM Professors Thomas J. Massaro, SJ, and Richard J. Clifford, SJ
•A March 26 candlelight vigil for the Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth
•Lectures on March 28 and April 26 by Lee Farrow, Do-Right Ministries founder and managing director
•An April 27 lecture by Xavier Jeyaraj, SJ, assistant secretary of the Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat of the Society of Jesus in Rome.
Sponsoring the exhibit along with STM and Do-Right Ministries are The STM Student Forum, Boston College Libraries and the Episcopal Chaplaincy at Boston College. The exhibit can be viewed during the STM Library’s hours of operation; see www.bc.edu/libraries/about/hours.html for details.
Admission is free; donations of paperback novels (no hardcover books) in English, Spanish or Portuguese are welcome.
Organizers note that sales of the paintings support educational scholarship funds for both children of the prisoners and for those who have lost a parent to violence, as well as the work of Do-Right Ministries.
For more information, contact Theology and Ministry Library Director Esther Griswold at firstname.lastname@example.org or ext.2-6540, or Chema Segura, SJ, at email@example.com.
Read a Chronicle story on the STM Prison Ministries Initiative here.