‘Per(Sister)’ Art Exhibit Shares Stories of Incarcerated Women

By N. Jamiyla Chisholm Jan 31, 2020

A new exhibition, “Per(Sister): Incarcerated Women of Louisiana," that explores issues of inequality and injustice will open at the Ford Foundation Gallery in New York City. 

According to an emailed press release, the show features work “from more than 30 artists who created new pieces based on the personal stories of 30 formerly and currently incarcerated women,” who have been named the "persisters."

"I want for everyone who comes to the exhibit to see us through the art and to understand what brought us here,” said persister Dolfinette Martin. “I’m a human being and my crime isn’t who I am. It doesn’t even begin to explain who I am.” 

The exhibit seeks to build awareness around incarceration by focusing on an often overlooked demographic. Across the nation, women’s state prison populations grew at more than double the rate of men’s over the past 40 years, according to a 2018 Prison Policy Initiative report. Says Museum Director and Exhibition Curator Monica Ramirez-Montagut at Newcomb Art Museum in Louisiana, where the exhibit was prior to the Ford Foundation:

For a museum looking to address social justice issues through the lens of arts as NAM does, and being aware of Louisiana’s recent reputation as the "incarceration capital of the world," it seems only reasonable to look into the prison industrial complex, one of the most critical issues affecting our immediate communities.The objective of this art exhibition is to informally educate the visitors on the human experience of those that have encountered the justice system.

“Per(Sister)” will be on view February 21 through May 9, 2020.