by Aimee Mepham, WFU Humanities Institute Program Coordinator
The exhibition, Release: From Stigma to Acceptance, opened on Saturday, January 17th at the Sawtooth School for Visual Art with an opening reception from 1-3pm. This exhibit features the words and art of formerly incarcerated offenders and was a collaboration between Project Re-entry program graduates, Wake Forest University students in Dr. Lisa Blee’s Public History course, and Project Re-entry coordinators.
An enthusiastic cross section of the Winston-Salem community attended the opening to view the exhibit, participate in a panel discussion on the development of the project, and to listen to music performed by Homemade Jam, which featured lead guitarist and project participant, Stephen McBride.
The student curators from Dr. Blee’s Public History class were Mallory Allred, Abby Brown, Caroline Green, Chelsea Hughes, Monty King, and John Williams. Allred, Brown, Green, and Hughes participated in the standing-room-only student panel in which they discussed the conception, preparation, planning, and creation of the exhibit. They also discussed one of the main themes driving the exhibit: challenging preconceived notions about former offenders. The students were very candid about their experience and discussed the process of grappling with their own prejudices and communicating what they had learned to their friends and family. Williams led a Q&A after the panel discussion, and King assisted Dr. Blee in a special recognition of the Project Re-entry graduates who participated in the exhibition project. The panel also featured an introduction to Project Re-entry, given by the program’s co-founder and coordinator, Rebecca Sauter.
The exhibit runs at the Sawtooth School through February 28th. It then moves to Wake Forest University from March 20th-April 17th and opens at the Project Re-entry Goodwill Office on May 4th.