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Panel Discussion

Narratives From Inside

Wednesday, February 7

7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

Aperture Gallery and Bookstore 547 West 27th Street New York, NY


Panelists: Nigel Poor, Virginia Grise, Vee Bravo, and Russell Craig

How can storytelling convey the experience of incarceration? Be it photographs, podcasts, or fiction workshops, these panelists deploy various modes of narrative strategy to bring stories of incarceration beyond prison walls.

Moderated by Shani Jamila, managing director of the Urban Justice Center.

Join us for the first in a series of public programs that accompany the spring issue of Aperture magazine and the related exhibition, Prison Nation, photographers, writers, historians, and activists discuss the unique role photography, art, and storytelling play in understanding and creating a dialogue around the crisis of mass incarceration in the United States. Following this panel, there will be a short reception to celebrate the opening of this exhibition.

Click here to see the full list of Prison Nation programming

Shani Jamila is a visual artist and cultural organizer. Her travels to nearly fifty countries deeply inform her photography, collage, and performance practice. Before joining the Urban Justice Center, where she is a Managing Director, she directed a culturally grounded mentorship initiative to support the empowerment of incarcerated teens; received a Fulbright fellowship to research advocacy in the Caribbean; and produced the Art of Activism seminar series at Howard University. She has exhibited, lectured, and performed at institutions including Harvard University, the Reginald F. Lewis Museum, Smack Mellon Gallery, SCOPE Art Fair, Corridor Gallery, City College of New York, the New Museum, the Phillips Collection, NYU, Princeton University, and the Brooklyn Museum. Named “One of the 35 Most Remarkable Women in the World” by Essence magazine, she has an image and quote featured in A Choice to Change the World, a permanent exhibition at her alma mater, Spelman College.

Nigel Poor’s work has been shown at the San Jose Museum of Art and Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, California; Friends of Photography, SF Camerawork, Haines Gallery, and SFMOMA, San Francisco; Museum of Contemporary Art and Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego; and Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC. Her work is in the collections of SFMOMA, the de Young Museum, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, and Corcoran Gallery of Art. She is a professor at CSU Sacramento and the cocreator and cohost of the prison-based podcast Ear Hustle.

Virginia Grise is a recipient of the Whiting writers’ award, the Princess Grace Award in theater directing, and the Yale Drama Series award. Her published work includes Your Healing Is Killing Me (Plays Inverse Press), blu (Yale University Press), The Panza Monologues (cowritten with Irma Mayorga; University of Texas Press), and an edited volume of Zapatista communiqués titled Conversations with Don Durito (Autonomedia Press). She earned her MFA from the California Institute of the Arts and currently lives and writes in the Bronx.

Vee Bravo is a New York native by way of Chile who has documented and written about hip-hop culture for the past twenty-three years. During that timespan he cofounded Stress Magazine, the first national publication to fuse hip-hop and politics. As a filmmaker Bravo coproduced the PBS documentary Estilo Hip Hop (2009), which chronicles the rise of hip-hop activism across Latin America. Since 2000 Bravo has also been instrumental in the integration of music and film education programs into the New York State prison system. As Vice President, Education at Tribeca Film Institute, Bravo has launched and directly taught several film-screening and scriptwriting programs for young people and adults across Rikers Island, Otisville, and Shawangunk correctional facilities.

Russell Craig was born and raised in Philadelphia, and grew up in group homes and foster placements. In later years, he found himself on the streets, and then in prison for a number of years. It was there that Craig reconnected with a childhood passion for art, using that rediscovery as a successful tool to transform his troubled past into a brighter future. Since participating in shows such as the DNC Rock the Vote Truth to Power exhibit in 2016, Craig has continued to open doors with his inspiring work.

Image: Nigel Poor, Prison Rock Band, June 26, 1975; Courtesy the artist and Haines Gallery, San Francisco

Aperture magazine’s “Prison Nation” issue and the related exhibition and programs are funded, in part, with generous lead support from the Ford Foundation, as well as funding from the Reba Judith Sandler Foundation. Additional funding is provided by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the Grace Jones Richardson Trust, and the Board of Trustees and Members of Aperture Foundation. Additional public funds are from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Narratives From Inside