Alum and faculty member Joseph Rodriguez speaks on the panel Everyday Incarceration - Visualizing the Legacy of Mass Incarceration.

Everyday Incarceration – Visualizing the Legacy of Mass Incarceration

A Panel Discussion Hosted by the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism’s Department of Visual Journalism

Over the past 40 years, U.S. incarceration rates have skyrocketed, leaving nearly 1 in every 35 adults in prison, jail, on probation or on parole. In this age of mass incarceration, visual journalists, artists and curators have sought to capture its impact on the American landscape. This diverse panel will explore four unique visual narratives and the key question of who gets to tell the story of a locked up nation.

Moderated by Pete Brook
Founder of
Curator of Prison Obscura exhibition

After the panel, we invite you to sit for a portrait and to tell us your experience with incarceration. The photos will appear on @EverydayIncarceration, a collaborative Instagram feed.

Pete Brook is a freelance writer and curator based in San Francisco. His website, Prison Photography, analyzes imagery produced within, and about, the American prison industrial complex. It has been recognized as one of the best photography blogs by, The British Journal of Photography and The Daily Beast.

Pete has lectured internationally on photography and taught art in prisons. His projects have been featured by The New York Times, The British Journal of Photography, Philadelphia Inquirer and Los Angeles Times.

Pete’s current exhibition, Prison Obscura, considers prison imagery that exists outside of the documentary tradition. It was most recently on show at Parsons New School of Design. Pete writes regularly about photography for Vantage, Wired, BagNewsNotes and The Marshall Project.

Gabriela Bulisova is a documentary photographer and multimedia artist based in Washington, D.C. Over the past five years, she focused her attention on underreported and overlooked stories regarding incarceration and reentry, especially the impact on families.

Bulisova has received numerous recognitions and awards, including The National Press Photographers Association’s Short Grant and Open Society Institute’s Moving Walls 18.

In 2005, she was awarded the degree of Master of Fine Arts in Photography and Digital Imaging from the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in photojournalism at the Corcoran School of Arts and Design in Washington D.C. and is a member of Women Photojournalists of Washington.

Joseph Rodriguez was born and raised in Brooklyn. His four-decade photography career examines incarceration, gangs, police and reentry, as well as families, communities and cultures across the globe.

After being incarcerated at Rikers Island as a minor in the late-60s, Rodriguez turned to photography as a guide in his life. In 1985 he graduated from the International Center of Photography in New York.

He went on to work for Black Star photo agency, and has published work in multiple top-tier outlets including National Geographic and The New York Times Magazine. He has received numerous awards and grants including New York Foundation for the Arts, Open Society Institute, National Endowment for the Arts, to name a few.

Rodriguez currently teaches at New York University and as a visiting artist at national and international universities.

Lorenzo Steele Jr. is a former New York City Correction officer (1987-1999) who mostly worked in the juvenile units at Rikers Island. He was regularly the photographer at events and celebrations with his fellow officers. In 1996, Steele began bringing his camera to the prison to document his experience there. That included daily violence and abuse of inmates and correctional officers.

The deep emotional and physiological impact of his experience at Rikers compelled Steele to start a visual arts education program where he shares his photographs and prison experience with middle school and high school students.

Nikki Zeichner began exploring multimedia storytelling with the Museum of the American Prison, a project that she initiated in 2012 to offer mainstream audiences a way to understand personal and experiential details of incarceration in the U.S.

Her interest in telling stories about incarceration grew out of her experiences working as a criminal defense attorney in New York City and regularly visiting with clients held in federal and state pretrial detention facilities in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn.

Nikki recently completed a Master’s degree in Integrated Digital Media from NYU’s Engineering School and is spending 2015 in San Francisco designing civic tech tools for a small, post-bankrupt municipality in Northern California. She remains in regular contact with the incarcerated individuals she worked with creatively on museum projects.

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