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Symposium Panelists Discuss Interruptions to Family Life Tonight

Old Dominion University, with generous support from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, the Ford Foundation and the Hellenic Society Endowment, presents "Humanities Encounter: Incarceration and Interrupted Life," a three-week-long symposium, beginning Sept. 20, designed to reach across economic and educational barriers to offer meaningful connections to the issues of incarceration in the United States.

Incarceration rates in this country have reached record high levels, resulting in the criminal justice system affecting the lives of millions of adults and children each year. A February 2008 report by the Pew Center estimates that one out of every 100 American adults is incarcerated.

The Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership calculates that 2.4 million American children have a parent behind bars. Taking into account the number of children with an incarcerated parent, on probation or parole, the number rises to 7 million, or one in 10 of the nation's children. In Virginia, the rate of incarceration is 14 percent higher than the national average for adults, but little attention has been focused on the human experience related to this phenomenon and its impact on individuals, families, communities, social service agencies and the criminal justice system.

The Baron and Ellin Gordon Galleries, Old Dominion University Theatre, and the departments of Communication and Theatre Arts, Sociology and Criminal Justice, English and Art developed the symposium to highlight the issues surrounding incarceration by raising questions, exploring problems and creating a community dialogue addressing the perceptions of incarceration. The goal is to explore incarceration as a human experience that affects the individual and the community, rather than seeing it as the experience of the "other."

"We hope 'Humanities Encounter: Incarceration and Interrupted Life' will capture the essence and emotions of the human lives directly and indirectly touched by incarceration," said Katherine Hammond, director of ODU's theatre program and one of the organizers of the symposium.

Hammond directs "Persephone Wept," an experiential, multimedia immersion into the lives of incarcerated women that combines classical literature with modern storytelling techniques. This commissioned work follows the Greek myth of Persephone and her imprisonment in the Underworld by Hades, presenting powerful images and eloquent voices to reveal and illuminate the human faces of prison inhabitants.

The symposium, which opened at the Gordon Galleries Saturday, Sept. 20, with the beautiful and dramatic traveling art exhibition "Interrupted Life: Incarcerated Mothers in the United States," includes presentations and scholarly talks, a multimedia performance piece, informal "brown bag lunch" discussions, documentary films with discussion panels, writing workshops and a poetry reading. All events are free and open to the public.

Gallery Exhibit - "Interrupted Life: Incarcerated Mothers in the United States." The exhibition continues through Oct. 12. Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries, 4509 Monarch Way. Hours: Tuesday - Saturday, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. - 5 p.m. 683-6271

Tuesday, Sept. 30

7 p.m. Panel, "Interrupting Family Life: Military and Prison Experiences," with Rickie Solinger in conjunction with the "Humanities Encounter: Incarceration and Interrupted Life" symposium.1012 Batten Arts and Letters Building. 683-6271

Wednesday, Oct. 1

12:30 p.m. Brown Bag Lunch lecture, "The Inmate as Learner: Education in Prison," with Lucien Lombardo and Lee Smith. Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries, 4509 Monarch Way.

7 p.m. Documentary Film/Panel, "What I Want My Words to Do to You," Elaine Lord. 107 Diehn Fine and Performing Arts Center

Thursday, Oct. 2

7 p.m. Lecture, "The Inside Story of the American Prison," with H. Bruce Franklin. 1012 Batten Arts and Letters Building

Friday, Oct. 3

7 p.m. Ekphratic Poetry Reading, "Writers in Community's Response to an Interrupted Life," including Luisa Igloria and Christian Gerard. Borjo Coffeehouse, University Village

Saturday, Oct. 4

10 a.m. Writing in Community Workshop, "Response to Art and the Community." Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries, 4509 Monarch Way

Tuesday, Oct. 7

7 p.m. Panel: "The Politics of Imprisonment," with Scott Christianson. 1012 Batten Arts and Letters Building

Wednesday, Oct. 8

12:30 p.m. Brown Bag Lunch Lecture, Political Art, Part 2: "The Political Is Personal: Women's Voices/Women's Lives," with Linda McGreevy. Baron and Ellin Gordon Art Galleries, 4509 Monarch Way. 683-6271


This article was posted on: September 30, 2008

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