The Mercyhurst Art Department presented the newest exhibit in the Cummings Art Gallery, “Coming Home: Reentry After Incarceration.”
This exhibit documents formerly incarcerated people as they return to society.
“We present this exhibit not only for the quality of the photography itself, but because we believe this project and its content supports the University’s Mercy mission,” said Cummings Gallery director Jessica Stadtmueller.
This mission “calls us to be socially merciful, compassionately hospitable and reflectively aware,” Stadtmueller said.
The project displays portraits by photographer Errol Daniels and essays by writer Katherine Russell, in a collaborative effort to humanize criminal justice statistics and portray the challenges of post-incarceration life.
The photographs showed the subjects in their homes, places of employment and other day-to-day environments.
Each subject showed a certain vulnerability in each photograph.
The collection borrowed the Arnold Newman aesthetic of environmental portraiture.
Illuminating the subjects’ environments helped create a sense that the audience knew these people personally.
Each person’s photographs were accompanied by an essay written by Russell.
These further shed light on the person’s life, experiences and desires.
This information included quotes from the ex-prisoners, the age they went to prison and the experience that they had while in prison.
The essays gave light into the individual’s past, while the photographs peered into their present and futures.
“Chuck was a death row prisoner with a unique case; he was given a death penalty without having killed anyone or having had the intent to kill,” wrote Russell in one piece.
Every case was different from the others, but all were successfully captured and written by Daniels and Russell.
The team worked with people throughout the Pennsylvania and New York State Area.
By telling the stories of parolees who do not want to return to prison, they hope that spectator will recalibrate their attitudes to “embrace the humanity and familial love; the hope, earnestness and grit; and the abrupt realities of reentry” said Daniels.
“Coming Home: Reentry After Incarceration” opened on Sept. 23.
It will be housed in the Cummings Art Gallery until Oct. 26.
The Gallery is open Mon. to Fri. from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sat. from noon to 3 p.m.