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Open Invitation

If you have participated in the project and would like to contribute to the blog, please contact Gregory Sale.

It was a couple of very busy concluding weeks for Gregory Sale’s social practice residency/exhibition It’s not just black and white, which officially closed on Saturday, May 14. Led by the artist, individuals came together through artistic gestures, gatherings and programs that have figuratively and literally broken down walls, working toward dismantling often blindly accepted and stereotypical power and victim structures in our society that are consistently unspoken or brushed aside. They are the difficult conversations that need to take place in an open society to move forward in positive directions, yet they often do not occur because of our biases, preconceived notions and unwillingness to listen in respectful ways to opposing viewpoints.

The ASU Art Museum has a long tradition of providing a safe venue for community discourse – including Francesc Torres’ Too Late For Goya (1993), a real-time analysis of the first Iraqi conflict, Desert Storm; school programs collaborating with artists Brain Weil for his project AIDS Photographs (1994); public conversations and panels addressing civil war and conflict through the exhibition programs associated with Art Under Duress: El Salvador 1980 – Present (1995); social injustices presented by artist Sue Coe’s visits and programs in association with Heel of the Boot (1996); twenty-one Cuban artists visiting and directly engaging with our community through Contemporary Art from Cuba: Irony and Survival on the Utopian Island (1998); and the numerous projects, panels and outreach programs addressing city growth and the responsibilities associated with such growth through the exhibitions Sites Around the City: Art and Environment (2000), nooks and crannies (2001), New American City: Artists Look Forward (2007), Defining Sustainability (2009) and Open for Business (2010).

It is this institution’s curatorial approach through a social practice mind-set that sets it apart from the majority of institutions addressing contemporary art in the United States.

We open the institution to the artist-driven ideas of social practice, rather than inviting the artist into the institution under the guise of social practice with the agenda of solving one of the museum’s problems, such as way-finding, age-group audience building, empty spaces or a one-off exhibition, as is the case with many of the institutions within the United States today. Dedicating a long-term initiative to social practice, the ASU Art Museum has fully committed to this type of artistic practice and, more specifically, to the artists and their vision. With that commitment, we find that artists often create what seem like new problems for our institution rather than solving existing ones, but we embrace their ideas and work to realize them to their fullest potential.

I provide this background to give a better understanding of what Gregory has achieved over the past three months and give you an insight into how much this overall initiative has developed through the experiences and research of this institution’s past projects. Gregory’s project definitely pushed the barriers for our institution, and we are much stronger and better informed because of his unbelievable efforts, vision and artistic practice.

As I mentioned above, it has been a three-month residency, but this post is just going to cover the last two weeks of the project. The project has concluded, and we are now in the process of sorting documentation, reflecting on what has happened, submitting reports to museum participants and supporters, and fundraising for a more expanded catalogue, which will document the entire project.

Any conversation about issues of criminal justice and incarceration in Arizona would be incomplete without the acknowledgement of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s role in current policy. Yes, he is a polarizing figure — his Tent City Jail complex, the striped uniforms, pink underwear, immigration round-ups — but from the beginning it was important that this be acknowledged in a way that brought value to It’s not just black and white. At the beginning we stepped lightly, as a key component of Gregory’s vision was working with the inmates within the gallery space of the museum. The inmates’ visit had been approved by the sheriff, so we worked hard to avoid any conflicts occurring prior to the completion of the inmates’ visits. Once Gregory was set into the project and the inmate visits were complete, we began to brainstorm about best approaches for inviting the sheriff into the overall conversation. Gregory and I felt it was important that people have a firsthand opportunity to hear from the sheriff regarding his policies and programs, instead of the sound bites fed through media. It was an opportunity for individuals to hear directly, to ask questions in person and get past the media circus or shout-down that often occurs. We went to the sheriff’s office and met with him in person, inviting him to the ASU Art Museum for a roundtable conversation titled Considering Matters of Visual Culture and Incarceration, and he accepted.

On April 29, the gallery space was packed with individuals from all walks of life: students, museum staff and patrons, civic leaders, former inmates, activists and others. Prominent figures at the table with Sheriff Arpiao included Frantz Beasley, former convict and Director of Arizona Common Grounds; Barbara Broderick, Chief Probation Officer, Maricopa County Adult Probation Department; Jeremy Mussman, Deputy Director, Maricopa County Public Defender; Jerry Sheridan, Chief, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office; and Gordon Knox, Director, ASU Art Museum, as well as Gregory and myself. The conversation opened with an overview of the project, which I presented, followed by a presentation by Gregory on the history of the stripe in visual culture and incarceration, which included the forced wardrobe of 14th-century prostitutes who had been pardoned by St. Nicolas, Charlie Chaplin imagery from early films, Monopoly “Get Out of Jail Free” cards, and performance artist Vanessa Beecroft’s Ponti sister project in Pescara, Italy.

Gregory then engaged the sheriff in conversation, asking him about his use of visual identifiers within the current Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, mentioned previously in this blog. The sheriff explained how most of these uses came to fruition within the structure of the system as guided through his vision. It was an insightful conversation, with audience members being able to judge for themselves the value of their use. The sheriff also talked about the programs within the system of which he was proud, including the ALPHA and Journey Home programs; individuals from both programs participated in It’s not just black and white activities. There were lots of questions and conversation on the topic of exploitation, but what I found most telling from the program was Sheriff Arpiao’s insistence that it is extremely difficult to attract press to the positive programs in the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. After experiencing what I have over the course of this three-month residency with Gregory, I think the sheriff may be on to something. Yes, it is so easy to get press in our society for the over-the-top, often exploitive and morbid occurrences in society, but much more difficult to get the same amount of press for the positive. Think of your nightly news — it almost always leads with the sensational and graphic story, saving all positive stories until the last five minutes of the telecast. So when the topic came up about the sheriff’s posting of online “Mugshots of the Day” which viewers can rate, something clicked in my mind. I do find this an abuse. The sheriff stated that “media post such mugshots all the time,” but it still doesn’t make this activity right. What I find to be the even greater problem is that society engages these sites, makes them popular, visits and votes. It becomes a sort of joke — “how funny some of these people look, especially since they are someone other than us” — but people visiting the site might not consider the fact that many of these individuals are pre-sentenced and still presumed innocent by law, and that they may have mental illness issues or may be victims of abuse. These images become a part of the visual culture and perhaps desensitize us to the real issues we need to address as a whole society. So perhaps, in an effort to draw attention to the positive, programs such as ALPHA and Journey Home, which do appear to be having an impact, should be the  featured spotlights on the Maricopa County Sheriff’s website.

That afternoon was capped off with a visit to the space by artist Mel Chin. Mel was in the Valley for a think tank on public art and is a friend of the ASU Art Museum. You might recall the museum’s participation in his Fundred Dollar Bill project last year and our screening of his animated film project 9-11/9-11. It provided us an opportunity to get an update on Mel’s project and to share with him the activities of Gregory’s over the past three months. It’s always great to have Mel here in town.

May 2nd marked the third and final visit by the high school students from Adobe Mountain and Black Canyon detention centers. Through temporary (escorted) furloughs arranged by Gregory, we were able to get to know these young people in amazing ways, working together through artistic discovery and practice. This day was packed with activities rooted in the promise Gregory made to them on their first visit, that they as a group would decide the best approach and work together to tear down the community grafitti wall. The wall had been written upon, first by inmates on day one, then by those who visited the space over the course of the three-month project. The students were handed small notebooks and asked by the artist to rediscover the wall, thinking about 12 specific questions and responding to those questions any way they wished in their notebooks. Upon completion of this activity, there was a group reflection and sharing conversation. The young artists were then provided disposable cameras, each with one of the 12 questions printed on it. The students were asked once again to rediscover the wall and document components of the wall’s collective gestures in photographic form based upon the questions, which they did. It was then time for lunch, so we all headed to a local restaurant for a hearty meal, returning to the museum to find all the photographs taken by the students developed and spread across tables within the gallery. Again, there was a group reflection and sharing conversation, leading into the discussion on ideas concerning the tearing down of the actual wall.

Then the tools came out — hammers, ladders, crowbars, drills. Working with Gregory, the students began on the back side of the wall, dismantling the drywall from the aluminum stud structure. Once the back of the wall was removed, it was again time for conversation. The students examined both sides of the wall and brought their ideas for best approaches to use in taking down the front side. It was decided that, if possible, the wall should come down in one large piece, with every attempt made to prevent it from splitting or cracking. The students worked to free the drywall from the vertical studs, hoping that the horizontal studs would still hold it in place, and it worked. Once the wall was freed, ladders were place on the back side so that the students could position themselves to push from the top. On the count of three everyone pushed and the wall came down in one large piece — success!

The remainder of the day everyone worked together to clean-up and then create an installation from the remaining materials of the wall within the space, before sitting together to enjoy bowls of ice cream and one last conversation about the overall experience. It was at that moment one of the young girls shared the fact she is getting out in a month and already had scheduled a meeting with the associate dean, based upon her meeting the associate dean on the students’ second visit to the museum, to talk about scholarship opportunities and the application process for attending ASU’s School of Dance.

A few days later, working with the collaborative support of ASU Project Humanities, noted scholar, activist and author Angela Davis presented a public lecture titled “Incarceration of Education? The Future of Democracy.” With over 600 people in the room and another 100 outside, Ms. Davis gave an inspiring hour-long talk focused on the industrialization of both the criminal justice and education systems, providing the background history on the development of these structures, their current state and the impact these approaches are having today in the United States. Her talk was followed by a brief conversation with Gregory and audience questions. The audience was then invited to join us in the It’s not just black and white gallery space for a book signing and powerful live dance/music/spoken word performance by Grisha Coleman, Eden McNutt, Sam Pilafian, Eileen and Monica Page Subia titled “Days/Months/Years.”

The final week of the project kicked off with a program of training for community volunteers working with the recently released, led by the National Advocacy and Training Network through Support, Education, Empowerment and Directions (NATN/SEEDS). The seven-hour training was conducted with mentors from the GINA’s Team’s Welcome Home Program and members of the public.

May 9th marked a wonderful day, which started with a meeting in the gallery of the Maricopa Adult Probation Division Unit. Immediately following that meeting we began to reunite with some of our collaborators who painted the original stripes on the gallery walls when they were inmates of the Maricopa County Jail. Now released, Joshua, Michael, Grayson, James and Erik (you might remember Erik from the previous post; he came back after release and proposed to his girlfriend in front of the graffiti wall) all joined us back in the space, coming on their own time to help Gregory and a few of his original students and community collaborators paint the black stripes white. It was a very symbolic dismantling of this space that had been visually charged by these stripes over the past three months. It was so great to reconnect with these guys and to see them in their personal clothing. They all mentioned how the ALPHA program helped them move forward and how their original experience in the museum space was their second best day of jail (the first being the day they were released). They are starting new jobs, reconnecting with family and moving forward in positive directions. Over the course of the final week, the guys came back for two additional visits, continuing to paint the black stripes out. It has been a pleasure to have them participate in the project, and I look forward to their continued engagement with the programs here at the ASU Art Museum.

The final Tuesday night presented the program Changing the Face of Re-Entry. AZ Common Ground and its partners, South Mountain Re-Entry Coalition, Kingdom Communities of the Valley (KCV) and Phoenix Police Department, presented the history, evolution and success of the community engagement model that is truly changing the face of re-entry. The program has been so successful in south Phoenix that it is now guiding programs in Houston and Miami. When you see the passion of the individuals, including members of the Phoenix Police Department, making a significant difference and affecting policy from inside the system, it gives you hope in our ability to find solutions to the current difficulties we face as a society. And to hear that AZ Common Ground came about through conversations among inmates within the system trying to figure out how they were going to survive on the outside with only about $75 to their names, it makes all that they have accomplished in such a short amount of time even more astonishing. A big shout out to AZ Common Ground’s Frantz Beasley for putting this together and allowing us the honor of hosting the event within the gallery space. A truly inspiring evening!

And as Gregory had planned from the beginning, the last week provided opportunities for reflection. On May 10th, Conscious Connections led a walking meditation from the space. The organization specializes in yoga and meditation study with at-risk and diverse communities.

During the afternoon of May 12, a group of individuals who are trained in association with the national organization Prison Visitors came together with Museum staff and Gregory’s collaborators for a conversation and contemplation. The individuals leading the conversation are specially trained and approved to visit federal and military institutions. For many prisoners, these visitors are the only contact they have with the outside world. Their insight and conversation during the afternoon transpired into a silent reflection period as we all concluded our day at the museum.

The last day of the project was marked by the revisit of our collaborators, who put finishing touches on the black stripes to make them white. The space was returned to a white box gallery of sorts, with hint or what had occurred still present. To conclude the project, collaborators and public were invited to join in a one-hour introduction to meditation, a very fitting way to conclude such a project and move forward from what we have experienced.

Thank you to all the individuals who participated in programs and activities, and to those who made this entire project possible. The project would not have been a success without the support of The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; the openness and guidance of the ASU Administration and legal team, specifically Jose Cardenas, Art Lee and Bruce Hooper; Kwang-Wu Kim, Dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts; ASU Art Museum Director Gordon Knox and Associate Director Heather Lineberry; Bill Hart, Senior Policy Analyst, Morrison Institute for Public Policy; Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office and most specifically MaryEllen Sheppard and our collaborator SRT Officers; Dean of Humanities Dr. Neal Lester and Brittany Allcott of ASU Project Humanities; Choreographers Elizabeth Johnson and Teniqua Broughton; Lindsay Herf and Katie Puzauskas of the Arizona Justice Project; Dr. LaDawn Haglund and Dr. Alan Eladio Gómez of ASU’s School of Social Transformation (Justice and Social Inquiry); Ana Maria Tomchek, Elmar Cobos, Margie Lucas, Adam Henning, Laura Dillingham, Peter Luszczak of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections; Sue Ellen Allen of Gina’s Team; ASU Art Museum preparators Stephen Johnson and Chris Miller; artist collaborators Kara Linn Roschi, Matthew Mosher, Jason Dillon, Stephen Gittins, Ricardo Leon, Ashley Hare, Claes Bergman, Matthew Garcia, Brett Thomas, David Tinapple, Rebecca Ferrell, Cory Bergquist, Amariell Ramsey, Kimberly Haug, Nathan McWhorter, Kathleen Arcovio, Catherine Akins, Chris Santa Maria; members of Gregory’s Advisory Committee; and most importantly the fourteen adults and fifteen youths who took a chance with us while they were serving time, and were open to our process and willing to join us in efforts of move things forward in positive ways.

THANK YOU!

-John Spiak, Curator

Click to view slideshow.

It’s not just black and white is supported by grants from
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and
Friends of the ASU Art Museum.

Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

During the course of Gregory Sale’s exhibition It’s not just black and white, the space was home to many lively discussions.

On Feb. 1, Gregory hosted “Thinking About Re-Thinking,” a panel moderated by Darren Petrucci, Director of the School of Architecture + Landscape Architecture at Arizona State University. The blurb for the event, which was part of the Museum’s “Re-Thinking the Museum” series, went like this:

“Is the museum defunct? Can it shed the elitist and colonial past? Can it be remade? Gordon Knox, Director of the ASU Art Museum, will argue for a new, socially engaged museum; Adriene Jenik, Director of ASU’s School of Art, will discuss the appeals and perils of museum involvement from the artist’s point of view; and Richard Toon, ASU’s Director of Museum Studies, will argue that the inherent contradictions of the museum are why it continually changes, why it must be continually rethought and why there is no such thing as the museum.”

Which is pretty much what happened, except that Adriene had to cancel, so Gregory represented the artist’s perspective on the panel and read aloud something that Adriene had written for the occasion, as well as offering his own perspective. And the conversation went in some fascinating and unpredictable directions, as you can see for yourself from the abbreviated version posted here.

ASU ART MUSEUM invites you to join us for the final week
of programs for the three-month-long project

It’s not just black and white
Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6
http://itsnotjustblackandwhite.info/

(Sheriff Joe Arpaio event, Black Canyon/Adobe Mountain students, Angela Davis event)

 
This public project has engaged many constituencies of the criminal justice system – including last weeks programs with Sheriff Joe Arpaio, students of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections Adobe Mountain and Black Canyon high schools, and the standing room only event with Angela Davis.

The multiple dimensions of the project, anticipated and unanticipated, now invite a period of evaluation, reflection and contemplation.

We invite you to join in a series of activities during this final week.

Tuesday, May 10, 4 pm – 5 pm
A walking meditation led by Conscious Connections. This organization provides yoga and meditation study in at-risk and diverse communities.

Tuesday, May 10, 6 pm – 8 pm
AZ Common Ground, along with its partners the South Mountain Re-entry Coalition and representatives from Phoenix Police Department, come together to consider how South Mountain is “Changing the Face of Re-entry.”

Thursday, May 12, 11 am – 5 pm
A small group of former inmates who helped paint the black and white stripes on the gallery walls in February, and who have now completed their sentences, will return to the museum to paint the black stripes white.

Additional programs will be announced.
Please consult the calendar at http://itsnotjustblackandwhite.info/

It’s not just black and white began with the current state of corrections in the
U.S. and Arizona, most specifically Maricopa County, and continues to develop
over the course of the artists three-month residency, concluding May 14, 2010.

It’s not just black and white is supported by grants from
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and
Friends of the ASU Art Museum.

Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

April is drawing to a close, and it has been an extremely busy month for projects associated with Gregory Sale’s Social Studies project It’s not just black and white.

The month began with the third public tour of Tent City Jail, another informative, eye-opening and direct experience opportunity for all involved.

On April 9, the Museum was fortunate to host a portion of the School of Social Transformation, Justice & Social Inquiry’s 1st Annual ASU Human Rights Film Festival. The afternoon, organized by the School of Social Transformation in collaboration with the Tempe Chapter of Amnesty International and ASU Art Museum, was based on the theme of Prisoner’s Rights and Militarization of Justice, screening the films Cointelpro 101 and The Response. The screening was followed by a lively discussion on the topics, led by Alan Eladio Gómez, Ph.D. Borderlands Scholar and Assistant Professor in the School of Justice and Social Inquiry at ASU.

The organization Reentry and Preparedness, Inc. (REAP) hosted a meeting on April 12 for its board of directors and advisory board. Reentry and Preparedness, Inc. (REAP) is dedicated to providing green job training, transition training, and mentorship for the families of the reintegrators from prisons and jails. The event was organized by Carol Manetta, Executive Director of REAP, as part of It’s not just black and white Open Bookings.

The Civil Dialogue Project on April 13 focused on creating a safe space for divergent viewpoints. Using the technique of civil dialogue, ASU faculty from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication facilitated a dialogue focused on two hot topics: incarceration and prisons. This project was an opportunity for students and the public to dialogue safely about issues that could be polarizing, in an effort to promote understanding. The event was facilitated by Clark Olson, Instructional Professional, and Jennifer Linde, Lecturer, at the Hugh Downs School of Communications.

Through arrangements made by the artist, working in direct relationship with the administrations of Adobe Mountain and Black Canyon high schools of the Arizona Department of Juvenile Corrections, fifteen male and female students joined us at the Museum on April 18th for their first of three full-day visits.  The students, along with their teachers, administration and ASU students, received a tour of the Museum and were provided a brief introduction to It’s not just black and white by the artist. We all walked to the School of Art, where we joined Stephen Gittins’ photo class and were given a tour of the studios and darkrooms. We took a walk through campus to the Memorial Union, where we enjoyed a lunch and conversation together. Upon arriving back at the museum, the art supplies were ready for the students to add their artistic expressions to the public wall within the gallery space. ASU Graduate Teaching Assistant Ashley Hare, of the ASU School of Theatre and Film, then led the students through a series of performance and improvisational workshops. Finally, the students walked over to the back of the Nelson Fine Arts Center theatre spaces and worked with graduate students through a puppetry workshop, creating their own puppets out of the masses of supplies made available to them.

A program the evening of April 19th combined two diverse groups in conversation.  The first group was criminal justice students of Professor Cathryn Mayer from Brookline College who arranged guest speaker Deputy Director Charles Flanagan from the Arizona Department of Corrections.  The second group were students from ASU professor Dr. Alesha Durfee’s Women and Social Change class who organized a panel including Maricopa County Chief Probation Officer Barbara Broderick of the Adult Probation Department, Sue Ellen Allen of Gina’s Team, Peggy Plews of Arizona Prison Watch and Donna Hamm of Middle Ground Prison Reform.  The entire group of sixty-five individual in attendance received a wide range of views and perspectives before engaging in respectful question and answer dialogue for an extremely successful event.

This past Saturday, April 23, as an Open Booking, The United Teams for Restorative Justice took over the space, providing a panel presentation of five organizations and their constituencies who engage with the criminal justice system, helping individuals heal and move forward in life. The five organizations in attendance and being recognized for their tireless efforts included Moma’s House, for its dedication to helping abused women escape the abuse and start a new life; Arizona Peace Alliance, for having a Department of Peace added as a cabinet level position in the government and for legislation aimed at teaching peaceful solutions; Gina’s Team, for its work to ensure inmates basic life needs are met; Reentry and Preparedness, Inc.,  for its dedication to support and renew those who have been incarcerated and deliver them gently back into society; and finally Phoenix Nonviolence Truth Force, for its trainings in peaceful solutions to everyday problems.  According to United Teams for Restorative Justice, it is is an organization dedicated to helping any party having contact with any criminal justice agency. They help not only the defendants and the victims but their families as well.  The event was organized by the United Teams David DeLozier.

This morning, April 26, the Maricopa County Adult Probation Executive Management Team (EMT) held their monthly meeting in the gallery. The EMT consists of a Chief Probation Officer, three Deputy Chief PO’s and eleven Division Directors. The Maricopa Adult Probation has about 1,100 employees and is responsible for supervising a monthly average of 58,264 probationers. The EMT meets monthly to focus on the strategic plan, managing for results and departmental goals in order to ensure that the departmental mission is realized. The meeting was organized by Therese Wagner as part of the Open Bookings.

And tonight we host the event “Incarceration and the Mentally Ill: Punitive or Restorative Justice?,” a formal dialogue with approximately twenty participants discussing the care and treatment of those with mental illness as their lives intersect with the criminal justice system. The goal is to bring together individuals with diverse perspectives and experiences, from the advocates for increasing rehabilitation of mentally ill offenders to those who feel the criminal justice system in place in Arizona is working well. The event is organized and managed by Mary Lou Brnick of the non-profit organization David’s Hope, with support from the Office of Individual and Family Affairs at the Arizona Department of Behavior Health Services and the Arizona Mental Health and Criminal Justice Coalition. The public is invited to observe the dialogue and participate during Q & A.

But it has been the past few days that have provided some amazing reconnections…

Last Friday a Cub Scout group visited the space. The scout leader, an Eagle Scout in ranking, was in the space sharing insights with his scouts. He encouraged them to express themselves artistically on the public wall as he spoke to them about the topics of the overall project. As he completed his conversation with the boys and allowed them time to draw, I approached and thanked him for his thoughtfulness toward the project and for sharing that thoughtfulness with his troop. It turns out their scout leader has a connection with the Museum; he toured the location many times and had been involved with educational outreach programs as a student at McClintock High School in Tempe.  He expressed how those experiences truly influenced his life and how he is so pleased to be able to share those similar experiences with his young troop.

On Monday our students from Adobe Mountain and Black Canyon reconnected with us for their second visit. It was so wonderful to see their smiling faces once again and hear of their eagerness to get started for another day of activities. Gregory began the day with a little presentation on the history of stripes, all through small black and white drawings.  He started with an image from “a mural in Italy painted around 1340 of three young women in stripes condemned to prostitution saved by Saint Nicolas,” shifted to image of Holocaust uniforms, then images of stripes as portrayed in the media and pop culture, shared the Razzle Dazzle camouflage used on ships during World War I, then the use of stripe in architecture, in patterning and finally examples of stripes used by contemporary artists. He talked about these historic stripes’ association with the current use of stripes in our community and within the exhibition, having the students consider their use and meaning more deeply.

Gregory then challenged the students to reconsider the stripes on the wall of his space. If they had the opportunity, how would they make adjustments to his vision? Each student was then invited to select an ASU student collaborator and express their vision through a painting workshop orchestrated on the floor of the gallery space. The results were fantastic, and each team had the opportunity to share their insight, creating a great dialogue with each other and the space of the Museum.

A walk across campus for lunch together at ASU’s Secret Garden provided the opportunity for a communal meal and insight from Heather Landes, Associate Dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and The Arts. Heather provided the students deeper knowledge of the opportunities available to them in the Arts and Design through ASU.   She talked about the application process and invited them all to join us as students at ASU upon the completion of their high school education.

After lunch our dynamo colleague, Elizabeth Johnson, Coordinator, Public Practice in the School of Dance, got the students moving. She worked with them collectively to get their bodies moving, first in basic movements then gradually building up to more choreographed series. The students broke off into groups and choreographed their own dances in relationship to the conversations of the day, then performed them for the other groups. We sat together and talked about the dances we had just observed and shared our overall impressions on the experiences. You could tell by the smiles and energy, it was extremely successful.

The students then loaded into their van and were shuttled off to the other side of campus to engage with School of Art Professor Angela Ellsworth’s intermedia performance art class. The student were greeted by the ASU students and given an overview of their studies. They talked about a current project they were developing and asked the high school students if they would assist. The project is titled “Cyborgs vs. Humans,” a parking lot tag style game that examines current culture and technologies. The rules for the activity were explained, and then everyone went to the parking lot for round one. The Cyborgs won round one in less than five minutes, then we all went back inside and debriefed. The information was gathered regarding successes and failure, differing options and possibilities. The game rules were adjusted and it was back to the parking lot for round two. Round two proved to be much more successful, a game lasting just over  10 minutes and exhausting everyone. At one point during the game, one of the high school students instructors turned to me and said, “It’s so good to see this kids get the opportunity to be kids,” and I would have to agree. It was good knowing that these students received a great day of activities and were probably going to get a great night’s sleep.

The students weren’t the only reconnection that happened on Monday. Mid-morning Erik, one of the original ALPHA program inmates who collaborated with Gregory to paint the stripes within the gallery, showed up at the Museum with his girlfriend, Lisa. Erik had been released, and it was so great to see him at the Museum in his own clothing. He toured Lisa through the space and shared the project and his experience with her, expressing the project’s intent as if he was leading a docent tour. He pointed out his contributions to the public wall as he reconnected with me, Gregory and Elizabeth Johnson, with whom he had performed a dance during his original visit. Before we knew it, Erik was down on one knee with a ring in his hand, proposing to Lisa, who immediately said YES!

Reconnecting is important, can be magical and is necessary at times in helping move forward in positive directions. I hope there are many more of these moments ahead!

-John Spiak, Curator

Click to view slideshow.

Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

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.

Last Saturday, I witnessed the mother-daughter bond strung out over a distance that was both physical and emotional. The daughters – Chloe, a.k.a Coco (10), Alliyah (10) and Angel (20)– were here in the Museum; their mothers – Felicia, Neesha and Teresa respectively – were at the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office’s Estrella Jail, where they are inmates.  

As part of Gregory Sale’s project “It’s not just black and white,” both mothers and daughters had been working with Teniqua Broughton, director of programs at Free Arts, and ASU’s Coordinator for Public Practice Elizabeth Johnson, as well as with Gregory, to develop dances that they would perform with and for each other via Skype, in what we were all calling “The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance.”

This idea – of mothers and daughters dancing together but apart – seems to strike a chord with everyone who hears about it. Somehow even the idea of the dance suggests the core issue that Gregory is exploring in his project: The real and too-little discussed impact of our incarceration system on all of us, as individuals and as a community.

It took a while to get the connection between the Museum and the jail working – technical difficulties were to be expected, since the point of jail is to isolate the inmates. When the connection finally succeeded and we could see the three women, standing in their baggy striped uniforms in a bare concrete jail yard, it was a relief: Although most of us watching didn’t know the women, they weren’t just anonymous inmates. They were the mothers of the three girls we’d been watching, in the gallery with us, as they waited patiently for their mothers to appear onscreen.

And the connection, when it was finally established, wasn’t perfect. It was like watching people on the moon – that same sense of delay and distance, of words and actions not synched with each other, of the unbridgeable gap between our world and theirs. Elizabeth became the interpreter on our end, and Gregory, who was at Estrella, seemed to take on the role of interpreter at the jail. Most of the small group of people in the gallery couldn’t hear exactly what the mothers were saying as they read their daughters the letters they’d written them, on subjects like change and beauty, but the daughters, huddled around the laptop that also showed their mothers’ images, drank their mothers’ words in and understood.

It was intensely clear how linked these women and their children were, regardless of whether they were able to communicate directly with each other, as if Skype was just the tool that laid bare that connection for the rest of us to grasp. We were the ones seeing the connection and the distance between the mothers and the daughters – the mothers and daughters were already well aware – and it was heartbreaking, all the more so when the screen suddenly went black and the words “Connection lost” appeared. It felt like losing something precious and knowing you might not find it again.

Once Gregory and Elizabeth managed to reestablish the connection, the mothers performed the dances they’d developed for their daughters, first individually, then together. The dances grew out of gestures the mothers had worked out in a workshop with Elizabeth that prompted them to think about the values they wanted to pass on to their daughters. Their movements were eloquent, powerful, real. They said so much with such economy, expressing in gestures the things they couldn’t say in words.

Then the daughters received gifts and notes from the mothers, and the mothers, on their end, received gifts and notes from their daughters. These notes weren’t shared in detail, which seemed appropriate. But it was clear that Angel, the oldest of the three girls, had a more difficult relationship with her mother than did the two younger girls. I learned later that unlike the younger girls, Angel had not grown up with her mother and had mixed feelings about participating initially. But in the letter she wrote to her mother, she said that she believed, for the first time in her life, that she and her mother were ready to live at peace with each other and to put the past behind them.

Finally, the mothers and daughters performed together, the same dance, the same moves, in their separate locations. They performed to an upbeat, up-tempo song with the refrain “You and me, baby, we’re stuck like glue.” Elizabeth explained later that the seed from which the dance grew was one main choreographed phrase, based on gestures that described the group’s collective definition of beauty.

When the performance had ended and the event was drawing to a close, MCSO Deputy Chief MaryEllen Sheppard, who has been instrumental in making Gregory’s project happen, addressed the three women in jail directly via the laptop. She thanked them for sharing their daughters with her and with the program, and told them what wonderful children they had. And she concluded by telling them precisely what all of us had just witnessed: “Where you are is not who you are. And we know that.”

 –Deborah Sussman

Click to view slideshow.

Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

Quickly sharing a few of the activities that took place this past week in conjunction with It’s not just black and white: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6.

On March 15 there was a lively discussion on the topics of Art’s Role in Resilience Science and Other Innovations in Thinking with national figures, led by Gregory Sale, Gordon Knox, Sander van der Leeuw, Richard Toon, and Adriene Jenik (by Skype), in association with ASU’s Global Institute of Sustainability.

On Saturday, March 19, Gregory provided the second of four Tent City Jail tours led by officers of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office.   Twenty community members joined the artist for, as the artist refers to it, (Re)SEARCH-based, first-hand experience.  Again, the questions were lively and the tour eye-opening.  The next tour is scheduled to take place Wednesday, April 6; you can sign up now to attend.

Tuesday evening, in collaboration with Arizona Justice Project,  Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Innocence Project Barry Scheck spoke to an intrigued audience of close to 100 people.   The insights and stories he shared were a mix of amazing, shocking and inspirational.

The coming month is jam-packed with scheduled activities associated with the project, and a few that are in the works, so we look forward to having you join us here for the engagement, dialogue and greater understanding of situations occurring in your own community.

Here is a little schedule to date.  You will note that some are open to the public while others are closed.  The closed to the public events are at the request of, and out of respect for, the participants:

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
4/9/11, 3:00pm-5:00pm
Films: Militarization of Justice
ASU Human Rights Film Festival features two films, Cointelpro 101 and The Response, and a panel discussion organized by ASU Professor Dr. Alan Eladio Gómez of the School of Social Transformation, Justice & Social Inquiry and Scott Henderson of the Tempe Chapter of Amnesty International.

4/13/11, 3:00pm-5:00pm
Incarceration and Prison- Hot Topics, Cool Heads
Using the technique of civil dialogue, ASU faculty from the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication will facilitate a dialogue focused on topics related to incarceration. The Civil Dialogue project focuses on creating a safe space for divergent viewpoints, inviting students and the public to dialogue safely about issues which could be polarizing in an effort to promote understanding. This event will be facilitated by ASU ProfessorDr. Clark Olson and Lecturer Jennifer Linde, Hugh Downs School of Communication.

4/19/11, 6:00pm-8:00pm
Women and Social Change/Gina’s Team Discussion Panel
A planned panel discussion will likely include Sue Ellen Allen of Gina’s Team, Peggy Plews of Arizona Prison Watch and Donna Hamm of Middle Ground Prison Reform. The panelists will share their experiences within the criminal justice system and their ideas on reforming the prison and jail system. An open discussion for those who attend the event will follow. The program is organized by students enrolled in Women and Social Change, taught by ASU Professor Dr. Alesha Durfee. Lead student organizers include Danica O’Grady and Katelyn Johnston.

4/26/11, 5:30pm-7:30pm
Incarceration and the Mentally Ill: Punitive vs. Restorative Justice
A formal dialogue with approximately 20 participants discussing the care and treatment of those with mental illness as their lives intersect with the criminal justice system. The goal is to bring together individuals with diverse perspectives and experiences, from the advocates for increasing rehabilitation of mentally ill offenders to those who feel the criminal justice system in place in Arizona is working well. The event is organized and managed by Mary Lou Brnick of the non-profit organization David’s Hope.

OPEN TO THE PUBLIC with advance registration (off-site)
4/06/11 and 4/23/11, 2:00pm-3:30pm
Tent City Jail Tours
Tour Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Tent City Jail.  Tours will be offered on Wednesday, April 6; Saturday, April 23; and Wednesday, May 4. All tours begin at 2:00 p.m.
Group size is limited to 20 adults. Tours are conducted by MCSO Jail staff.  Admission is free. Advance registration is required for Tent City tours.  For details see the project website at http://www.itsnotjustblackandwhite.info

CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC
4/02/11, 12:00pm-5:00pm
Mother Daughter Distance Dance
The Mother Daughter Distance Dance is a dance workshop organized by Elizabeth Johnson, Teniqua Broughton and Gregory Sale as a component of the “It’s not just black and white” exhibition at the ASU Art Museum.  The workshop engages incarcerated women who are graduates of the rehabilitative arts outreach program “Journey Home” and their daughters, through an original collaborative choreography to help repair relationships and prepare moms for the transition home and to help families who have been apart know each other for who they are NOW.  The daughters perform at the museum exhibition space for and with their incarcerated mothers, who dance at Estrella Jail. The two sites are connected virtually through a live video feed.  Both the mothers and the daughters will take a series of dance classes prior to the virtually-connected dance workshop.

4/12/11, 1:30pm-4:00pm
Adult Probation Division Meeting
(Organized by Julie Chavez)
A meeting with the Adult Probations  unit.  This divisions of supervisors  interviews people in the jails and supervises  inmates while they are allowed on leave  for work in the community and   on probation while still serving time, participating in programs such as ALPHA and additional  reentry efforts.

4/18/11,  9:00am-12:00pm
Pretrial Services/Adult Probation Meeting
(Organized by Penny Stinson)
A meeting of various directors from the Maricopa County Superior Court Pretrial Services and Adult Probation Units as well as a training session.

4/26/11, 8:15am-11:00am
Adult Prob Exec Mgmt Meeting
(Organized by Therese Wagner)
The Maricopa County Adult Probation Executive Management Team will be holding their monthly meeting in the space.

4/27/11, 2:00pm-4:00pm
Adult Probation Division Meeting
(Organized by Anna King)
Unit meeting of adult probation officers who supervise clients with a variety of offenses.

- John Spiak, Curator

It’s not just black and white is supported a grant from
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

Click to view slideshow.

Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

As we await our inmate collaborators’ graduation from the ALPHA program, their release from jail and for them to rejoin us in the exhibition space as members of the outside community, the projects and conversation of It’s not just black and white continue to build.

Last week Gregory hosted the students of the Women & Social Change class of Assistant Professor Durfee of Women & Gender Studies at ASU. The students are in the beginning process of organizing a social action on the ASU campus to raise awareness of the untimely death of prison inmate Marcia Powell. Powell, 48, died May 20, 2009, after being kept in an outdoor human cage in Goodyear’s Perryville Prison for at least four hours in the Arizona sun with temperatures in the 107 degree Fahrenheit range.

As a social practice and performance artist, Gregory has much experience with public action. He listened to the student’s ideas and provided insights into possibilities of making the action more impactful. The students were engaged and passionate, and we are excited to see their event in action. We will definitely share dates and times for their action when they have been confirmed.

On Thursday Gregory and I met with Alan Gómez, Borderlands Scholar and Assistant Professor of the School of Justice and Social Inquiry at Arizona State University, and Scott Henderson of theTempe Chapter of Amnesty International. Together, Allan and Scott are developing one day of programming for the 3-day First Annual Human Rights Film Festival at ASU.  On Saturday, April 9, the ASU Art Museum will host the afternoon program PRISONERS’ RIGHTS, MILITARIZATION OF JUSTICE. The afternoon will present three short films: Cointelpro 101, The Response and a new video based on It’s not just black and white by Gregory Sale. The screenings will be followed by a panel discussion on the program topic led by key figures of the community.  I have posted the complete festival screening program below; the panels are still being confirmed, and we’ll share that as well once it is available.

On Friday, GINA’s Team hosted a volunteer informational gathering for the Welcome Home project. The Welcome Home project is a volunteer mentoring organization that welcome’s home female inmates upon release. The program included an amazing introduction and insight from Sue Ellen Allen, a former inmate of Perryville prison and co-founder of GINA’s Team. She shared the story of Gina, a 25-year-old mother who befriended her at Perryville and who died of leukemia while serving time. She introduced Gregory by stating the importance of his project in creating greater community awareness and dialogue, and Gregory shared his project with the audience. Sue Ellen went on to introduce Gina’s mom; Karen Hellman, ATS Program Manager, Counseling & Treatment Services of the Arizona Department of Corrections; Jan Weathers, Re-Entry coordinator, Counseling & Treatment Services of the ADOC; and Marianne Petrilloa, a GINA’s Team board member. They all spoke with grace from multiple perspectives, providing additional insights into the complex topics of the current state of corrections in Arizona.

Lastly, the key note speaker was introduced, member of the Arizona State House of Representatives Cecil Ash (R.Mesa). Rep. Ash shared stories of his years in a position at the Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office. He presented example after example of cases where he felt the mandatory sentencing (for those not from AZ, mandatory sentencing laws in this State leave very little, if any, flexibility for a judge hearing the case – sentences must also be served consecutively) was beyond extreme. He talked about his efforts to get sentencing reform bills heard on the house floor and the lack of support for such bills at this current time. It was clear that Rep. Ash is passionate, has clear vision and insight, and most of all has complete integrity when it comes to these issues, yet still confesses that he is constantly attacked by those who stick to the “tough on crime” mentality often used as a defense for not even considering possibilities of change to the current system.

It was once again an eye-opening week at the ASU Art Museum, and much more is on the way, like tomorrow’s (3/15) discussion Art’s Role in Resilience Science and Other Innovations in Thinking from 2 – 3:30pm. 

And there’s still time to sign-up for this Saturday’s (3/19) tour of Tent City Jail at 2 p.m.

We hope you’ll join us!

- John Spiak, Curator

It’s not just black and white is supported a grant from
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

First Annual Human Rights Film Festival at ASU 
Free and open to the public; each grouping of films will be followed by panel discussions.

Friday 4/8
5-8 pm — ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RIGHTS
Armstrong Hall, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
The Economics of Happiness

Saturday 4/9
12-3 pm — PRISONERS’ RIGHTS, MILITARIZATION OF JUSTICE
ASU Museum of Art, in conjunction with Gregory Sale’s art exhibition “It’s not just black and white”
Cointelpro 101, The Response
5-8 pm — IMMIGRANT RIGHTS
Armstrong Hall, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
FILM SHORTS: Dream Act Students, Arizona Women & Children Rise: Resisting SB1070, Testimonies of Resistance from Apartheid Arizona, Exiled in America

Sunday 4/10
12-3 pm — TRANSITIONAL JUSTICE
Armstrong Hall, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
Long Night’s Journey Into Day: South Africa’s Search for Truth & Reconciliation
5-8 pm — INDIGENOUS RIGHTS
Armstrong Hall, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law
The Snowbowl Effect

Co-sponsored by Human Rights at ASU, the School of Social Transformation, Justice and Social Inquiry, and the Barrett Honors College.

Visit humanrights.asu.edu as the festival date approaches, for updated times, locations and final film and panel selections.

Click to view slideshow.

Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

It’s not just black and white:
Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

and

GINA’s Team
cordially invite you to join us as

GINA’s Team Presents
Welcome Home
Volunteer Event

WHAT:
Introduction to the GINA’s Team Welcome Home project

WHEN:
Friday, March 11th, 1 to 2:30 pm

WHERE:
ASU Art Museum, SE corner of 10th St. & Mill Ave. Tempe AZ

WHO:
All interested individuals

WHY:
When women are released from prison, no one says “Welcome Home.” Often they are lost in a world of confusion and need mentors desperately. You are a Wise Individual with a life experience to share with women rebuilding their lives. Come find out how you can be a part of this dynamic program. You will have an opportunity to impact lives, save taxpayers money and reduce recidivism.

Representative Cecil Ash, R-Mesa (Ariz.), will be addressing the importance of this vital project.

RSVP to Marianne Petrillo,
Gina’s Team Board Member
marianne0403 (at) gmail (dot) com

For more information on GINA’s Team, please visit:
http://www.ginasteam.org/

This event is an Open Bookings program of the exhibition/residency
It’s not just black and white: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6 .

Open Bookings establishes a shared space for public programming within the museum during times not set aside for other museum programming. This flexible space for classes, performances, and discourse will be shared by individuals and organizations demonstrating a sustained interest in civil justice and contemporary practices of law and order.

If you or your organization are interested in scheduling an Open Bookings event, please visit the following website for information: http://itsnotjustblackandwhite.info/pages/bookings.php

- John Spiak, Curator

It’s not just black and white is supported a grant from
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

Last week provided me with a lot of food for thought. It began with the second visit of MCSO ALPHA program inmates, a new group of seven, along with the return of the MCSO SRT officers who escorted the first group from ALPHA as well.

It was good to see these officers again. We had some great conversations about the project on their first visit, and we were all eager to share with them some of the activities that had taken place in the space since their prior visit three weeks before. Their insights, respect, openness and flexibility toward our process of working with the entire collaborative team made things flow so smoothly during both visits. These folks perform a tough job on a daily basis, and with that type of role I had my preconceived stereotypes of what the officers would be like and how they would, or would not, engage this project. While their backgrounds were diverse, from a veteran and ex-pro football player to a former Olympic athlete, their willingness to participate was clear during the two visits. We talked about the concepts of the overall project, a few got into the impromptu dance choreography with Elizabeth Johnson, they all helped decide the final look of the gallery (to complete or not to complete certain sections of the stripes) and helped paint, and all signed the canvas along with the artist, ALPHA group and student collaborators. I don’t envy these officers their difficult jobs, but they have my complete respect both for the role they provide our community and as quality individuals.

It was good to see the ALPHA guys again. It had been a little over a month since we first met them at Towers Jail, so getting reacquainted and hearing more of their personal backgrounds was nice. Again, the range of personalities and experience was diverse, and I found myself having the longest conversations with the ones I felt I had most in common with. One inmate from California reminded me of so many of my friends, a good family guy who was able to get things set up for his family before he had to serve his time. I could tell he was serving his time in a respectful manner and using it as a learning process to make himself an even better person once he is out. We are looking forward to re-engaging these guys with the project in the coming months as they are released. There are plans in the works for a program with the group here in the Museum, so we will let you know when it has been confirmed.

There were small things that occurred during Saturday’s visit that made me understand better the freedoms that I take for granted and what it means to be on the inside or outside. When I needed to go to the bathroom, I just went; I didn’t have to wait until two guys need to go and then be escorted. I could also could go and get a cola when I wanted one. I know these seem like extremely small actions, but ones I was afforded because I am on the outside.

Nothing makes those freedoms clearer than the end of each working day. At that point, the members of the ALPHA group get a last bathroom break, line up against a wall in the Museum and go from being playful and talkative collaborative partners to once again being inmates. They work their way up the stairs to the loading dock in a single file line, gather against another wall, are cuffed, then loaded into the caged pods of the Sheriff’s transportation van. At the end of the day, they are still on the inside.

The week continued with tour visits from junior high school to university students to the space, meeting with Gregory and talking about the concepts of the exhibition.

Tuesday night was An Inside/Outside Prison Writing Workshop, presented in partnership with the University of Arizona Poetry Center, organized by writer Ken Lamberton, poet and UA professor Erec Toso, and poet and UA Regents Professor Richard Shelton. The workshop was built upon Richard Shelton’s 30 years as a prison volunteer with the Arizona State Prison Complex, with participants sharing their experiences as present or former convicts and prison workers. The public participants included a wide range of individuals, from ASU faculty, staff and students to local writers and artists.

Wednesday was the first scheduled public tour of MCSO Tent City Jail. The tour provided firsthand experience within the complex and offered information regarding how the jail is operated. We had a great group join us for the tour, including members of our advisory board, Arizona Supreme Court employees, healthcare workers, a docent from the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, an art professor from Paradise Valley Community College, ASU graduate and undergraduate students, and members of the State Press. The tour was an opportunity for lots of questions, to which the guard was more than happy to respond. It also provided an opportunity to see for one’s self a small sampling of the conditions, systems and structures currently in place as part of our corrections and justice system of Maricopa County. There are three more tours scheduled, so please visit the website and sign up if you are interested.

More programs in conjunction with It’s not just black and white are being scheduled as I post this, so we should have some big announcement about visiting speakers in the coming days. Please continue to view our blog and the It’s not just black and white website for all the updates and schedules, and don’t forget to visit the Museum and see the current state of the installation and talk with the artist when he is present.

We hope that this project will continue to provide you with further views and insights into what it means to be inside and outside.

- John Spiak, Curator

It’s not just black and white is supported a grant from
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

Click to view slideshow.

Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

Lately we have been using the tag line “ASU Art Museum is a community incubator re-thinking the museum through sustainability, diversity of knowledge and shared human experience – recognizing we are more similar than different.”  This was extremely apparent this past Friday evening as I stood in the Museum’s Turk Gallery for the public reception of Gregory Sale’s It’s not just black and white, having conversations, sharing stories and observing what was occurring before my eyes.

There was a great diversity among the over 1,200 individuals who attended the season opening reception, with backgrounds as wide as the imagination -  a former inmate, a deputy chief from the sheriff’s office, parents of a young lady who had lost her life in prison, lawyers, the editor of Arizona Prison Watch, the mental health director for Maricopa County Correctional Health Services, the justice system coordinator for Maricopa County, the executive co-directors of the Arizona Justice Project, the adult probation supervisor for Maricopa County Adult Probation, educators, artists, activists, students and community members.

(L to R) Dr. Dawn Noggle, Mental Health Director, Maricopa County Correctional Health Services; MaryEllen Sheppard, Deputy Chief, Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office; Amy Rex, Justice System Coordinator, Maricopa County; John Spiak, Curator, ASU Art Museum; Sue Ellen Allen, Co-founder and Executive Director, Gina’s Team; Lindsay Herf, Executive Co-Director, Arizona Justice Project; Katie Puzauskas, Executive Co-Director, Arizona Justice Project; Gregory Sale, Artist

It was truly heartening to see all the individuals collectively, not just in the same room, but having respectful and informed conversations with one another. They come to the conversations through direct experiences, knowledge, insights. They all expressed concerns, talked about budget issues, shared their struggles with perceptions and prejudices, creating conversations with one another within the context of Gregory’s project. There was talk about the possibility of joint board meetings, scheduling outside one-on-one lunches and using the space for future dialogue and activation.

Their approaches, roles and ways of taking on issues may differ, but it was very clear to me they all share passion – a passion to see that the world becomes a better place. Whether it is creating positive education or rehabilitation programs from the inside, monitoring current systems that may be failing, assisting inmates with opportunities once they are on the outside, or preventing people from getting to the inside in the first place, these individuals all embodied what it means to care as human beings. 

I was able to recognize throughout the evening: We are more similar than different.

I encourage you to share in the experience. Gregory has a few upcoming events that are open to the public and may be of interest.   

The first is An Inside/Outside Prison Writing Workshop, with former inmates and former prison employees, which will take place Tuesday, March 1 from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. here at the Museum. The second is an opportunity to tour Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office Tent City Jail on Wednesday, March 2 at 2:00 p.m.

These are just the beginning of programming for the course of this ASU Art Museum Social Studies initiative residency.

You can sign-up for the Tent City Jail tours and keep posted on all project activities through the It’s not just black and white website at the following address: http://itsnotjustblackandwhite.info/

- John Spiak, Curator

It’s not just black and white is supported a grant from
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

Click to view slideshow.

Additional Blog Posts
Angela Davis, Sheriff Joe Arpaio, Youth in Detention = Social Practice
Reconnecting – It’s not just black and white
Dream like you mean it: The Mother-Daughter Distance Dance
Another Active Week and the Schedule for April
Waiting for Release, Sentencing Reform & Welcoming Home
Invitation to Join Us for Volunteer Event – GINA’s Team
Inside & Outside – It’s not just black and white
More Similar Than Different + Tent City Jail Tour Opportunity
You can’t move forward until you know where you are
Olympic Gold Medalist, Gina’s Team and PVCC Students!
IT’S NOT JUST BLACK AND WHITE: Gregory Sale – Social Studies Project 6

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