ARTIST STATEMENT AND PROCESS
Script from Within is a collaborative visual art project that incorporates authentic handwritings of women who are incarcerated in Minnesota, confronting viewers with the humanity behind the epidemic of mass incarceration of women. The rate of incarceration of women in our state has increased over 900% in the past three decades.
I obtained the handwritings for Script from Within through a “Call for Your Handwriting”. That was not as simple as it may sound. How does an outsider gain access to women who are locked up in our correctional facilities?
When I was finally able to get access within the Ramsey, Goodhue and Hennepin County correctional facilities (jails), I explained the Script from Within project to interested women residents. I emphasized that one doesn’t have to be a writer to write, and that to me Hand Writing is an individual’s expression with innate artistic possibilities. The “Call for Your Handwriting” has optional prompts such as “I miss...” and it invites participants to write on a page whatever they want to share with the outside.
To amplify their voices, I traced fragments of the original, penciled graphics of their handwritings through hand stitching, i.e. with needle and thread. To date, there have been more than 100 participants and Script from Within keeps growing as I continue to collaborate with more women who are incarcerated.
In addition to the installation on display at Mitchell Hamline gallery, an original artwork created with the authentic handwritings is exhibited in the program room at the Ramsey jail. There have been artist’s talks and even a reception within the jail; emotions have been triggered and shared. Libraries of participating institutions will receive a book of the art.
Although the women who handwrote needed to remain anonymous to move this project forward, I hope that their individual humanity will speak to you.
MITCHELL HAMLINE GALLERY, 675 Summit Ave, St. Paul, MN
HOURS 8 AM – 8 PM, MONDAY THROUGH SUNDAY
FEB 15, ARTIST’S TALK with reception to follow: start time of talk 6 PM, Room 123