Panel Discussion on the U.S. Prison System

November 15, 2014 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
BYRDCLIFFE Kleinert/James Center for the Arts
36 Tinker Street

Behind Bars: Inmates, Counselors, and Volunteers
Important Panel Discussion addressing the U.S. Prison System held at the BYRDCLIFFE Kleinert/James Center for the Arts

On November 15, 2014, in conjunction with the current exhibition Henrietta Mantooth: Jailbirds & Flowers, the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild will host a panel discussion featuring an array of guests who have intimate experience of the New York prison system, ranging from incarceration to counseling and creative mentoring of inmates. Panelists include Andre Noel, who was an inmate of 12 years at the Woodbourne Correctional Facility. There, Noel learned modern dance and created Figures in Flight Released, a dance company comprised of men who have spent part of their lives in prison. He will give a short dance performance as part of the event.

Other panelists are Gustavo Ramirez, M.A., the Program Director of the Secure Residential Treatment program in Springfield, Massachusetts. Ramirez has worked in the criminal justice system for over 25 years, with a specialization in alcohol and substance use disorder services. Greta Baker is Artistic Director of the ArtTree Theater Troupe at Eastern Correctional Facility, the maximum security prison in nearby Napanoch. ArtTree seeks to reduce recidivism by developing theater skills, literacy, and social and problem-solving skills; Baker and her actors have successfully produced many theatrical productions despite the administrative hurdles of working within a maximum security environment. Panelist Kathleen Donovan has a Master’s degree in dance and teaches improvisational theater; her role acting in a production of Eugene Ionesco’s Rhinoceros with the ArtTree Theater company at Eastern Correctional Facility will be part of the panel discussion. Lastly, the panel includes Ines Fernandez, MSW, a counselor and social worker who has worked at Eastern and other prisons. The featured artist, Henrietta Mantooth, who packed the house with a talk at the Kleinert/James on October 25, will also participate in the discussion. As a vivid backdrop to the panelists, the exhibition features Mantooth’s The New Jim Crow, a monumental, theatrically composed installation in which birds recount tales of the injustices in prisons today.

The panel, starting at 3:00 pm on Saturday, November 15, is free to the public.

Henrietta Mantooth, The New Jim Crow, 2014. Mixed media installation. Kleinert/James Center for the Arts, Woodstock.