Dialogues

 

 

The following essays, articles, video segments, and blog posts 

reflect the thoughts and experiences of the artist, the curator,

project participants, and community members. Often created

for a specific context, they vary in length and scope.  As a

collection of documents they contribute to the ongoing dialogue surrounding this project.

 

Connecting – Inside and Out, John Spiak         A visit to a university’s legal council and risk management team is not the usual way to prepare and research a curatorial project at a major university art museum. However, the residency/exhibition project It’s not just black and white with artist Gregory Sale started just that way. Sale and I thought it might be best to confirm in advance the legalities of bringing inmates, along with fully armed Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team officers, to campus. Fortunately, the administration of Arizona State University is extremely open-minded and supportive of the creative process.         more...

 

Artist's Introduction, Gregory Sale        About ten years ago on my way into City Hall in Phoenix, Arizona, I stopped dead in my tracks as I witnessed a chain gang of women in black-and-white-striped uniforms repainting the red “no parking” stripe on the curb around the building. The women worked in unison, each waiting as another filled a roller with paint or carefully cut in the painted edge of the curb. Guards stood by, tall and upright, legs spread wide, the butt of a shotgun resting on a thigh. Was it street theater, performance art or another media stunt by our local sheriff?      more...

 

Dialogue, John Spiak and Gregory Sale        In spring 2011, Gregory Sale launched It's not just black and white as a residency exhibition that considered the complex cultural, social and personal issues at stake in the day-to-day workings of the criminal justice system in Arizona. It was the sixth in the ASU Art Museum's Social Studies series, which explored dialogue-based, process-oriented context by literally bringing the studio into the museum as an installation of black-and-white-striped walls, created in collaboration with inmates, and operated as a site for developing and displaying visual and mediated exhibitions, dance and other staged events, public forums, workshops and readings.     more...

 

Incarceration, A Primer, William Hart         Americans have always prized individual liberty. Sometime around 1980, they fell in love with its opposite: incarceration. Thirty years on, the infatuation continues. Locking people up has long been part of the criminal justice landscape. But by the end of the 1970s, many Americans, frightened by rising crime rates, decided that too many lawbreakers were getting off too easy. The answer? More punishment. Between 1980 and 2000, America's prison population increased by 500 percent as the prison population soared by more than one million. Hundreds of new prisons were built at a cost of billions of dollars. Internationally, America became the undisputed imprisonment champion of the world, and still reigns by a wide margin. The United States incarcerates the largest number of people of any nation, and at a rate four times the world average. Nor does American incarceration appear to be an equal-opportunity option.        more...

 

New Aesthetic Practices, Arthur Sabatini          It's not just black and white was a multidimensional project that focused on incarceration and the criminal justice system in Arizona. It was designed and implemented by artist Gregory Sale and was centered at the Arizona State University Art Museum in Tempe, Arizona, from February to May, 2011. This essay, written in two parts, reflects onthe aesthetics of It's not just black and white, Sale’s accomplishments and the project’s representation of the concepts and practices of the criminal justice system and incarceration. By addressing issues of visual culture, aesthetic practice and the criminal justice system in Arizona, It's not just black and white could be regarded as a model for negotiating politics and aesthetics on this controversial issue.        more...

 

Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance, Deborah Sussman        As the mother of a 13-year-old girl, I am now learning, from the other side of the relationship, just how much adolescent girls both need and struggle against their mothers. The important part is keeping the vital lines of communication open, even if it’s just sitting in the car listening to the radio together as I drive her to school in the morning. I take being in the same space with my daughter for granted, the same way I took my mother’s presence for granted. But these are not givens.           more...

 

A Mother/Daughter Distance Dance, Elizabeth Johnson         As one element of It’s not just black and white at the Arizona State University (ASU) Art Museum, “A Mother/Daughter Distance Dance” engaged inmate mothers at Maricopa County’s Estrella Jail and their daughters in a participatory, creative endeavor that virtually connected the estranged mothers and daughters through image, words and movement. The process included a series of interdisciplinary art-making workshops investigating change, beauty and values through the metaphor of a pearl, and culminated in a sharing of performance work through a tenuous Skype conversation held simultaneously in a gallery and in a courtyard at the jail — the program literally bringing the studio into the museum and engaging the participants directly in the creative process. In this essay choreographic lead Elizabeth Johnson assesses and reflects on the experience.        more...    

 

When Art and Social Action Collide, Sue Ellen         The organizational structure of It's not just black and white allowed Gina's team and many other organizations to use the museum space as a place to consider this very complex puzzle during these last few months. Many of us didn't know each other, but we do now.  This public project helped us build alliances and create collaborations in undreamed-of ways. Legislators like Representative Cecil Ash (R-Mesa); directors of the state prison, county jail and adult probation systems; activists; and former inmates all sat at a long table in the gallery and talked, often for the first time.       more...

 

Inside/Outside Prison Writing Workshop, Erec Toso         We, Ken Lamberton the ex-prisoner, Jerry Marzinsky the retired prison staffer, and myself, a prison volunteer, met in Tucson at the University of Arizona (UA) Poetry Center to carpool up to Tempe for our talk at It’s not just black and white, an art installation on the subject of incarceration. Ken carried a box full of Walking Rain Reviews, the prison literary magazine, copies of his own books, and some articles published by the Poetry Center Prison workshop.  Jerry had a folder with copies of his latest essay. I had my book bag with a copy of Richard Shelton’s book Crossing the Yard: Thirty Years as a Prison Volunteer, along with — ever the teacher — some writing activities for the evening.         more...

 

Angela Davis Ignites Critical Thinking at ASU Talk, Floyd Alvin Galloway          Davis asked the question, "What kind of democracy are we looking for, a capitalist democracy which places commodity over humanity or true democracy? A capitalist democracy relies on the punishment of people for money." Davis noted this is the kind of democracy where ASU fires nearly 200 janitors and contracts the service to companies that offer lower wages and fewer benefits. Davis stated that the United States prison system has gone from rehabilitation to incorporation and has not decreased violence against women or children. The Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) operates six prisons in Arizona, and Davis says evidence shows the corporation had a hand in promoting the SB1070 law and in similar ones being drafted around the country. CCA denies those charges. Davis asserted that the corrections system promotes the profitability of racism — racism against immigrants and against people of color — which gives the system a steady stream of income.          more...

 

Art’s Role in Resilience Science and other Innovations in Thinking, Richard Toon            On Tuesday, March 15, a special event was held in the ASU Art Museum where Gregory Sale is staging his show, It’s not just black and white. It was a panel discussion, part of the international conference, “Resilience, Innovation and Sustainability: Navigating the Complexities of Global Change.” The aim of the conference was to “to advance understanding of the relationships among resilience, vulnerability, innovation and sustainability ... by bringing together scientists to share their work on the dynamics of interconnected social-ecological systems.”           more...

 

It's Impossible to Escape Stories Surrounding Tent City Jail, Jes Gettler       After living in Phoenix for so many years, it is impossible to escape the stories surrounding Tent City jail. When the opportunity to tour Tent City was extended as part of Gregory Sale’s project It’s not just black and white, I was excited about the chance to answer some of the questions I had and to see it with my own eyes...  When we entered, I expected metal detectors and armored officers, but there were none. Our group was led into a beige room, and the door shut behind us. The officers leading the tour spoke of the history of Tent City, its low operating costs, and that the general length of stay is just over three weeks. They said Sheriff Joe wanted to make the jail experience so bad that lawbreakers will not want to return.            more...

 

Criminal Justice System Explored Through Art, José Cárdenas      There is an art exhibition in the valley giving people the opportunity to explore and examine Arizona's criminal justice system. The project is called It's not just black and white. And with me tonight to talk about the exhibit is artist Gregory Sale and ASU Art Museum curator John Spiak. John, let's talk about the background of the project. This is one in a series of presentations, projects that your department's been working on.          more...

 

Considering Matters of Visual Culture and Incarceration (History of Stripes, Gregory Sale)      The following images and comments were used in a powerpoint presentation on the history of prison stripes and the visual language they engage. The presentation served as a frame for a round table discussion and as a springboard for a community dialogue.        more...

 

On-going blog posts by Professor Arthur Sabatini
On-going blog posts by Curator John Spiak 

Press

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Dialogues
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