Thursday – Sunday, October 20-23, 2011
In programmatic partnership with the National Park Service, We Players created site-specific arts events addressing the themes of incarceration, isolation, justice and redemption on Alcatraz Island from 2009-11. The company concluded this historic three-year artistic residency with a four day symposium exploring justice and freedom through diverse media. Symposium events occurred throughout the island and included: performance art, music, dance, visual art exhibitions, ritual, and panel discussions with formerly incarcerated artists as well as victim awareness activists.
Dance Theatre Evening Program in the Cell House, Hospital and Parade Ground
The evening program is a three part event, where the audience will: explore the cell house and witness movement metaphors representative of the history of Alcatraz and current prison realities; move through emotion and grief with participatory music and dance; and feel cleansing, purification, and transformation as we view bright-burning coals dancing in the open air with the San Francisco skyline as our back drop.
Evening Program Curator: Lauren D. Chavez
Cell House Dance Theatre Collaborators: Laurel Butler, Lauren D. Chavez, Amie Dowling, Ava Roy
Musicians: Ajayi Jackson, Paris King, Paul Rucker, Josh Tower and other guests
Coals Dance: The Tea Dancers, Natta Haotzima and Mayra Enriquez
Poetic Justice Project’s “Women Behind The Walls” in the Hospital
Women Behind the Walls was written from improvisations with the women of Chowchilla prison, the largest women’s prison in the world. A multiracial cast of five women in a unique and gripping play that moves audiences from laughter to tears as they confront the women behind the walls. This play has been produced in many multi-cultural theaters throughout the US. http://www.poeticjusticeproject.org/
Visual Art and live cello performances in the New Industries Building
I was recently arrested for “strong armed robbery” while protecting my own personal property in Oakland, CA. These three paintings help tell the story. They are as follows: “A View Of the Jail From the Courtroom Lobby”, “The Interior Of the Cell” (painted from memory), and “The Douchebag That Put Me There” (based on the so called “victim’s” Facebook profile picture).
Meditation on Hunger Strikes and Public Fasts
The site specific installation by artist Evan Bissell looks at the uses, gains and spiritual grounding of people who have engaged in hunger strikes and public fasts for self-determination and freedom throughout history. Created with salt, water and military issue dishware from Alcatraz, the interactive piece is a meditation on impermanence, interconnectedness and sacrifice – the belief that one’s life, and how it is lived contributes to a greater body that will continue past the death of one of its parts.
The Knotted Line (in-process)
The Knotted Line is a participatory, internet-based project investigating the history of incarceration and its relationship to education and labor in the United States from 1495-2025. The Knotted Line weaves together a dynamic, narrative painting of over 75 historical moments with an evolving online interface to create an interactive historical laboratory and container for the sharing of visitors’ personal experiences as related to incarceration. When completed in Spring of 2012, The Knotted Line will also include a book version and free curricula for high school classes and community organizations. Shown on Alcatraz will be over 30 miniature paintings of key historical moments.
In 1895, 19 Hopi men were imprisoned on Alcatraz Island for refusing to accept the American government’s program of forced education and assimilation. With an interest in social histories, Monica Lundy’s most recent project focuses on the 19th century imprisonment of Native Americans on Alcatraz Island, long before the infamous prison we currently know as Alcatraz Prison was built. This series of site-specific paintings reference Alcatraz’s history while simultaneously incorporating existing elements of the deteriorating architecture into the artwork itself, resulting in a direct collaboration between the history of the site and the artist.
Art can tell stories. For years I would talk about injustice by reciting numbers and statistics. When you say, “We have over 2.3 million people in prison,” it’s a large number to comprehend. I did research at a prison issues-themed residency at the Blue Mountain Center in New York, and found some maps that I felt could help tell the story. The project is an animated mapping – using different colors to indicate prison construction in different eras, showing the proliferation of the US prison system from a celestial point of view. The viewer can clearly see the astonishing growth of this system over time.
Live Cello Performances
Spaces contains residue from the past. You can feel this on Alcatraz. The New Industries/ Laundry is simultaneously a site of privilege (it was a privilege for prisoners to work) and exploitation (prison labor is not regulated under the same laws as free labor). All my work is inspired by that which moves me. Every object has a sound. I enjoy performing in galleries and creating live, improvised sonic interpretations of artwork. The music I create on cello involves extended technique, prepared cello and electronics.
I thought I’ve seen humans… Interactive performance in the Hospital
Mabel Negrete/ Counter Narrative Society (CNS)
CNS is presenting a new para-fictional multimedia participatory performance at the former hospital of the Alcatraz Federal Prison which unpacks the immaterial qualities of Negrete’s new proposition: “I thought I’ve seen humans.” As part of her long-term project, “When the Invisible Punishing Machine is Everywhere, The Weight I Carry with Me”, she has designed an immersive performance for audiences to witness the rigid architecture of the hospital which upholds nightmarish notions about safety and eugenic technologies, and synergistically to witness the transformation of some intangible stories she carries as a wounded witness.
Guided viewing of “Images from the Inside” exhibition in the Band Practice Room
Join gallery curators Patrick Gillespie (We Players) and Carol Newborg (William James Association) for discussion on the inmate-produced fine art works in We Players final visual art installation of the 2011 gallery series. On Sunday, several previously incarcerated artists (whose work is displayed) will also join for this gallery viewing, prior to the panel discussion with ex-inmate artists, moderated by Larry Brewster.
Panel Discussion – Restorative Justice and Victim Awareness in the Dining Room
Moderated by: Patrick Gillespie
Panelists: Reggie Daniels, Rose Elizondo, Richard Kamler and Sonya Shah
“Process Orientation of the Creative Arts and Healing; Product Orientation of our Current Prison System”
A panel of Restorative Justice practitioners, artists, and performers will discuss the theories and methods of Restorative Justice and Victim Awareness. The discussion will explore how the creative arts intersect with these practices to facilitate healing and transformation, and raise awareness for both the general public and the prison population. In addition, the panel will explore the differences and overlap of Social Justice and artistic practices.
Community Grief Ritual on the Parade Ground
Part of We Players intention for the culminating symposium, is holding space for an energetic acknowledgement and release of the great pain we notice embedded in the rocks of Alcatraz, and weaving through society as a result of historical injustices and the current prison system. This community grieving ritual engaged our bodies, hearts, minds and spirit to experience and move through our grief, transforming the energy and freeing ourselves and society to move forward with enhanced openness and creativity.
Panel Discussion – Ex-Inmate Artists in the Dining Room
Moderated by: Prof. Larry Brewster
Panelists: Willie Bermudez, Larry Calderon, Ronnie Goodman, Mickey Magic
“Arts in Corrections: From the Inside”
A panel of artists, craftspeople and performers will discuss how arts in corrections helped them turn their lives around and keep them out of prison. Moderated by Dr. Larry Brewster of USF who has studied California’s Arts-in-Corrections program for over 25 years.
COLLABORATING ARTIST BIOS
Seth Armstrong (visual art presenter) Seth Armstrong was born and raised in the Silverlake district of Los Angeles, Ca. After studying painting in northern Holland, he received a BFA from the California College of the Arts in Oakland and San Francisco. Seth has exhibited his work extensively in the Bay Area, as well as in London and the Netherlands. He now lives and works in Los Angeles.
Claire Braz-Valentine (playwright, Women Behind the Walls) Claire is a widely published poet, a freelance writer of both children’s and adult fiction and nonfiction, and an award winning playwright. Her poems have been featured in many anthologies. Her plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles and across the United States, and in Finland, Greece, and Canada. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, on CNN Television, and broadcast on BBC radio. She has worked for years with youth at risk and incarcerated adults, as part of the California Arts in Corrections Program, creating plays, monologues, and poetry anthologies and installation art with convicted felons.
Evan Bissell (visual & interactive art presenter)Artist Evan Bissell designs and facilitates sites of collaborative dialogue that support self-determination and visions of community and society based in love. Through processes that incorporate radical pedagogy, participatory research, ethnography and meditation, the results include collaboratively designed, larger-than-life paintings, multi-media participatory exhibitions, public installations, workshops, and free publications.
Larry Brewster (previously incarcerated artist panel moderator)Larry Brewster served as dean of the College of Professional Studies at the University of San Francisco (1999-2007) and served for two years as acting dean of the School of Education (2002-2004). Before joining USF, he was academic dean at Menlo College, and has served as dean at Golden Gate University and professor of Political Science in the California State University system.
Dr. Brewster regularly consults in public policy and organizational development and has industry experience as former Director of Market Research for BT Tymnet, an international data and telecommunications company. He recently coauthored California Politics, 2nd ed., Wadsworth & Co., 2004, and The Public Agenda: Issues in American Politics, 5th ed., Wadsworth & Co., 2004. He earned his doctorate at the University of Southern California and currently is Professor of Public Administration in the School of Management.
Dr. Brewster first evaluated the California Arts-in-Corrections in 1983 when he conducted a cost-benefit study of the program. He found that the program’s quantitative and qualitative benefits exceeded program costs. In the past three years, Professor Brewster has interviewed formerly incarcerated men and women who had participated in the Arts-in-Corrections program to learn what impact the program had on their lives while inside and since their release from prison. Several themes have emerged through these interviews, including self-discovery, discipline, confidence and self-esteem while “doing their time” meaningfully through the artistic process; learning the value of hard work and completing projects; reconnecting with family through their art; giving back to society; and finding a safe haven in the art program where men of different races and background work side by side as artists.
Laurel Butler (choreographer)Laurel Butler is the Youth Arts Manager and Education/Engagement Specialist at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Before moving to the Bay Area earlier this year, Laurel served as the Artistic Director of The Actor Inside Program, facilitating theater and dance workshops with inmates and juvenile offenders in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She directed the theatre program for Comienzos, Inc. exploring principles of non-violent communication and conflict resolution through theatre with adults at the Bernalillo County Metropolitan Detention Center. The production of “Lucid Dreaming/Sonando Lucido”, an original work collaboratively written by the Comienzos participants, debuted as part of the Revolutions International Theatre Festival this January. As a member of the Keshet Dance Company outreach faculty, Laurel taught dance classes inside the New Mexico Youth Diagnostic and Development Center post-adjudicated youth facility. She also managed the ScOutreach Juvenile Diversion Program, collaborating with the State of New Mexico Child Youth and Families Division to incorporate principles of restorative justice and community healing into after-school programming for repeating youth offenders. She has served as an educator for the National Hispanic Cultural Center, as executive director of Theater-in-the-Making, and as founder/director of the Albuquerque Street Theatre Brigade. Laurel has an M.A. in theater education and community outreach from the University of New Mexico, where she was the instructor of Theater for Education and Social Change, and a B.A. in performance pedagogy and community cultural development from Hampshire College. Her newest dance project, Make/Shift/Performance, will debut its first work at CounterPULSE this November.
Amie Dowling (choreographer)Amie Dowling is a full-time faculty member in the Performing Arts and Social Justice Department at the University of San Francisco, where she serves as the Coordinator of the Dance Program, and an Artist in Residence at the San Francisco Jails. Her choreography has been presented by the American Dance Festival, the Kennedy Center, Painted Bride, Jacob’s Pillow, and Ponderosa Dance Festival, as well as numerous colleges and universities. Prior to moving to California, Dowling was a guest artist in the Five College Dance Department and taught at Amherst and Mount Holyoke Colleges. From 1986 to 1993, Dowling toured with the Liz Lerman/Dance Exchange and subsequently went to Chiang Mai, Thailand to assist in the creation a Performing Arts Department at Payap University and work with NGOs that assisted women who were leaving the sex-trade industry. In 2001, Ms. Dowling co-founded The Performance Project, which develops original works of movement and theater through a collaboration of professional artists and incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men and women.
Natta Haotzima (coals dancer)Mexican-born dancer/poetess. She transmits simplicity, harmony and peaceful community living through her varied art expressions.
From an early age, Natta has been interested in healing and she studied the Holographic Repatterning System, which identifies unconscious patterns and energy restrictions, and is established by renown Scientist Chloe Wordsworth. Later on in life, Natta studied other healing therapies such Sound Frequency Therapy, Education Kinesiology, Reiki, Healing Movements and Yin Shin Acupressure Points. Natta Haotzima studied at the Choreography School of UNAM, the National University of Mexico, as well as at the James Carte’s Ecole de Danse in Toulouse, France, and the D’Jonibas Center in New York City. Her dance credits include dancing with the “Street Theater and Circus Production” in Mexico, the National School of Quebec (who are the co-founders of the Cirque du Soleil), with “Aerial Dance & Precarious Balance,” with Humanicorp Dance Company, at the National Institute of Arts (Bellas Artes), and with the Circus School of Barcelona, Spain. Locally, Natta has studied with Project Bandaloop and the Vertical Dance Workshops. She has performed with Lulacruza, Elizabeth Mendana Productions, and Diana Suarez. In term of multimedia art, she has exhibited in different museums in Morelos, Mexico such as The Museum of the City of Cuernavaca, “Jardines del Sol” in Ocotitlan, Ex-convento de Tepoztlan and Auditorio Ilhucalli; in Chiapas at the Auditorio de Tuxtla Gutierrez; in San Francisco at The Mission Cultural Center, at De Young Museum and in Oakland at The Mills College Theater. Natta once confessed that her favorite magic place to dance is on any nation’s street. At this moment, Natta is teaching aerial dance in conjunction with Studio 12 in Berkeley, and following Buddhism at Hua Zang Si Temple in San Francisco.
Mayra Hua Qiao (coals dancer)Mayra is a multifaceted dancer. Her first incursions in dance were with fire dancing and street performing in Mexico City. And it was here that she decided to begin formal dance training in West African Dance which she passionately pursued for more than ten years while working and teaching. As part of this commitment, she traveled to Guinea, in West Africa to deepen her studies and techniques of traditional Guinean dances. She was able to enrich her repertoire as a folklorist of African descent expressions with a variety of dances such as Afro Cuban, Sabar, Congolese, Mexican Folklore, and Afro Brazilian. Later, after an encounter with Modern Dance, style was transformed to a purely alternative concept. her Parallel to studies in dance, she also has a strong fitness-training background. She studied various forms of body awareness in Mexico City and San Francisco. In this quest, she was captivated by Yoga and Pilates techniques, and become a certified instructor in both. Today she has four certifications and five years of teaching experience and practice. Mayra has conducted many dance workshops and Master classes in different places such as Nativa and Epicentro dance schools, ITESO and UNISON Universities in Mexico City. She has danced with dance groups such as Bakan, Gaia Ceiba and Raiz Negra from Mexico. At this moment, she is dancing with the Liberation Dance Theater Company with Jacinta Blanch, Opera Muerta by John J. Leanos and building the project “The Tea Dancers / El Ballet de la Compasión” with Natta Haotzima in The Bay Area.
Monica Lundy (visual art presenter)Born in Portland, Oregon in 1974, Monica Lundy spent her childhood between the United States and Saudi Arabia. Her extensive childhood travels culminated in diverse experiences with different cultures and their traditions. These experiences began shaping her awareness of, and curiosity about, divisions in cultural perceptions. She went on to receive a BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1996. In 2001 she spent a year in Florence, Italy, where she was invited to study painting under the mentorship of a local artist. She received a MFA from Mills College in 2010 and was a recipient of the 2010 Jay DeFeo Award. Among other publications, her work has been featured in The Huffington Post, Visual Art Source and the San Francisco Chronicle. She currently lives and works in Oakland, California.
Mabel Negrete (multi-media & performance art presenter)Mabel was born in Chile and about 20 years ago she made the USA her home (in the Bay area of San Francisco). In 2007, she founded the Counter Narrative Society (CNS) , a research unit that works to initiate counter narratives about bio-power, urbanism, culture and technology. In 2009, she joined the MIT program in Art, Culture and Technology and under the CNS started to ask the question, what is mass punishment?
From this major question, presently she is developing a multifaceted long-term dialogical and performative fieldwork called …when the invisible punishing machine is everywhere…The Weight I Carry with Me. It consists of organizing and creating para-fictional actions and nomadic encounters to interrogate intimately how punishment, alienation and social-urban control in the terrain of the USA has affected her family, her friends, herself and the community at large who have suffered the invisible effects of state control, incarceration and inequality.
Mabel is also a recipient of several recognitions including MIT Presidential Award 2009-2010 and MIT Architecture Department Fellowship 2009-2011, Zellerbach Family Foundation & W.A. Gerbode Foundation 2006, and Osher Memorial Merit Scholarship – San Francisco Art Institute 2003-2006.
Paul Rucker (multi-media presenter & cellist)Paul Rucker has received numerous grants for the creation of visual art and music from 4Culture, Seattle Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, South Carolina Arts Commission, Washington State Arts Commission, King County Site Specific, Photo Center NW, and Artist Trust. Rucker has created public artwork for the Museum of Flight in Seattle, 4Culture, and the City of Tacoma.
He has also been awarded residencies to Blue Mountain Center, Ucross Foundation, Art OMI, Banff Centre, Pilchuck Glass School, and the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio, Italy. As a musician and director Rucker plays in various situations from solo cellist to leading his LARGE ENSEMBLE of twenty-two musicians. Rucker was named Best Emerging Artist of 2004 from Earshot, 2005 Jazz Artist of the Year from the Seattle Music Awards, and Outside Jazz Ensemble of the Year in 2008. In 2007, he was invited by legendary filmmaker David Lynch to perform for the opening of Lynch’s film, Inland Empire.
Molly Williams Stuckey (director, Women Behind the Walls)Molly Williams Stuckey is proud to be directing the original piece Women Behind the Wallswith Poetic Justice Project. She holds a BA in theater from Union University and a MA in theology of the Arts from Fuller. Molly is a SAG eligible actress from Los Angeles and was one of the founding members of the The Fuller Company. As a director, Molly’s two biggest accomplishments were assistant directing the world premier of Serenade, the new musical from the Tony Winning author Rachel Sheinkin. Molly also directed the documentary The Answer Myth. Her goal is to one day have a theater company that raises money for social justice issues around the world, combining her love of the arts and humanity. A complete list of Molly’s work can be found at www.mollystuckey.com
THURSDAY, FRIDAY AND SATURDAY 5-9pm
Dance Theatre Program:
Cell house dance theatre by Laurel Butler, Lauren Chavez, Amie Dowling and Ava Roy
Blues jam with Ajayi Jackson, Paris King, Paul Rucker, Josh Tower and other guests
Coals dance by The Tea Dancers
Poetic Justice Project: Women Behind the Walls
Dinner and conversation with Women Behind the Walls director Molly Williams Stuckey and actors
Guided tours of visual artworks by Seth Armstrong, Evan Bissel, Monica Lundy
Proliferation screenings and live cello performances by Paul Rucker
Interactive Art Installations by Mabel Negrete
Walking tour and conversation with We Players artistic director, Ava Roy
Panel discussion – victim awareness & restorative justice
Guided tours of visual artworks by Evan Bissel and Monica Lundy
Proliferation screenings and live cello performances by Paul Rucker
Interactive Art Installations by Mabel Negrete
Walking tour and conversation with We Players artistic director, Ava Roy
Guided viewing of We Players current exhibition - Images from the Inside
Panel discussion – previously incarcerated artists, moderated by Larry Brewster Closing Ceremony
The Alcatraz Symposium on Justice & Freedom was Produced by We Players
Lauren Dietrich Chavez, Managing Director
Patrick Gillespie, Visual Arts Director
Ava Roy, Artistic Director