In collaboration with community and campus partners, the Duke University Chapel project Always Human: Re-Visioning Justice examines prisons and mass incarceration from a variety of perspectives and through a variety of media.
The project attempts to recognize the varied history and purpose of prisons in the United States and in Christian traditions. Prisons can be places for restraint and repentance that serve the cause of justice, and places of mass suffering and confinement that are used as tools of injustice. Prisons have also been the sites from which prophetic and inspired letters in the Christian tradition have been written by St. Paul, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Martin Luther King Jr. and others.
The goal of Always Human: Re-Visioning Justice is to both cast a critical eye on the current state of the criminal justice system in America and also to highlight ways that communities and individuals are seeking both justice and hope. The project is based around concurrent exhibitions—Standing on Love in Duke Chapel and Serving Life at the Rubenstein Arts Center—along with events that address the themes of the exhibitions.
Standing on Love
On display in Duke Chapel from October 30 to December 2
This collection of photographic portraits brings centerstage family members living with a loved one on death row. Their faces and words are meant to offer a chance to reflect on the meaning of values such as justice, mercy, and compassion. The Standing on Love exhibition was created through collaboration among people living on America's Death Row, their families, and the community arts collective Hidden Voices. It is part of Hidden Voices’ series Serving Life: Re-Visioning Justice.
The photographer for the exhibition is Jenny Warburg. She is a freelance photographer and former social worker living in Durham, North Carolina. Her photographs have appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, Time, Newsweek, US News and World Report, The Los Angeles Times, People, Rolling Stone, US Weekly, Mother Jones, The Washington Post, Ms., The Guardian, and the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Intelligence Report. Her photos have also appeared in numerous books and on book covers, as well as in many documentary films, television documentaries and news programs.
On display in the Rubenstein Arts Center from November 1 to December 10
Since 2013, the community arts collective Hidden Voices has collaborated with people on death rows across the country to envision a multi-arts project able to generate the civic will to revision justice. One result of that collaboration is the Serving Life exhibition. It aims to challenge assumptions about guilt and innocence and to provide a vehicle for the public to connect with the actual lives hidden within an impenetrable system. It is part of Hidden Voices’ series Serving Life: Re-Visioning Justice.
Serving Life has three multi-arts components. The first is twelve 12 “life maps,” which men on death row created using limited materials—such as toilet paper, nondairy creamer, and recycled cardboard—in response to an invitation to visually represent an aspect of their life journey. The second component is a collection of large-scale renderings of an element from each map. These were created by artists using techniques including ceramics, assemblage, and sculpture. The final component is a series of phones on which you can listen to recordings of men on death row sharing personal stories. At the close of the exhibit, visitation booths invite you to reflect and respond to these men.
The collaborating artists for the exhibition are: Billy Dee, Carlyn Wright-Eakes, Catherine Edgerton, Jessie Gladdek, Jodi Hart, Joseph Amodei, Kofi Boone and Hossein Saedi, Lamar Whidbee, Michael Betts II, Michelle Preslik, Nureena Faruqi, Rachel Campbell and Kelly Baker-Trapp, Stephen Hayes, Sufia Ikbal-Doucet, and William Paul Thomas.
These events offer opportunities to explore the themes present in the two exhibitions; all of the events are free and open to the public
Conviction 2018: Songs of Faith from Women in Prison Tuesday, October 30, at 7:00 p.m. | Duke Chapel Interfaith Prison Ministry for Women and the band Apple Tree are partnering with Duke Chapel to produce a concert event sharing songs of faith from women in prison. While local musicians Susannah Long and Michael Conner will be leading the way, they will be joined by a handful of the songwriting women who have been released from prison and will be performing their own music. Come prepared for a powerful night of music and stories about journeys from behind the walls to new life beyond them. Before the concert at 6:00 p.m., the Chapel will provide light refreshments and an opportunity to view the Standing on Love exhibition. Watch highlights from the concert:
Serving Life Opening Reception Sunday, November 4, from 3:30 to 6:15 p.m. | Rubenstein Arts Center Explore the the Serving Life exhibition through a series of programs: at 3:30 p.m. is a tour; next at 4:30 p.m. is a community reading of Right Here, Right Now, monologues co-created with men on America’s death row; and then at 5:15 p.m. light refreshments will be served.
Standing on Love Opening Reception Tuesday, November 13, at 6:15 p.m. | Duke Chapel Learn more about the Standing on Love collection of portraits of people with family members living with a loved one on death row. Some of the people who were photographed for the exhibition will share reflections. Light refreshments will be served.
Ruby Fridays: Serving Life Friday, November 16, at 12:00 noon | Rubenstein Arts Center Learn about an exhibition of art created by men on death rows across the country, on view in the Ruby and Duke Chapel. Lynden Harris, founder and director of the community arts collective Hidden Voices, will give a talk about the Serving Life exhibition. Learn more.
Bridge Panel Public Conversation: Re-Visioning Justice Tuesday, November 20, at 7:00 p.m. | Duke Chapel This Bridge Panel public conversation will highlight the stories of justice-involved individuals and the impact of mass incarceration in the local community as well as ways faith communities and others are coming together to seek a more just society. The Chapel’s Bridge Panel series more broadly seeks to connect people from disparate walks of life in order to discover shared pathways toward the beloved community of God. The panelists are:
Dr. Douglas Campbell, Professor of New Testament at Duke Divinity School
Drew Doll, Reentry Coordinator for the Religious Coalition of a Nonviolent Durham
The Hon. Shamieka L. Rhinehart, Durham District Court Judge
Watch a recording of the conversation:
Serving Life Exhibtion Reception Saturday, December 1, from 11:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. | Rubenstein Arts Center The nonprofit Human Kindness Foundation hosts a reception focused on the Serving Life exhibition. The foundation supports people in prison who wish to undertake spiritual practices.
A Community Circle: Holding Space for Repairing Harm through Restorative Justice Saturday, December 1, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. | Calvary United Methodist Church at 304 E. Trinity Ave in Durham Restorative justice circles have been utilized for centuries as a way to reconnect communities and individuals in the wake of harm. We invite you into this sacred practice, to share and learn alongside families who have had a loved one murdered and families who have had a loved one sentenced to death. All are welcome to participate with us in an intentional circle process that reflects the beautiful roundness of beloved community. Co-sponsored by the Capital Restorative Justice Project, Restorative Justice Durham, and Duke Chapel. Graciously hosted by Calvary United Methodist Church.