On Monday, Oct. 17 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in Dane Smith Hall, room 120, Richard Ross will present his work during a public lecture, which is free and open to the public. Also, on Tuesday, Oct.18 from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., the Honors College will host a roundtable discussion, with Ross and other academics on campus, regarding the state of detained juveniles.
During the 2016-17 academic year, UNM’s Honors College is supporting the interdisciplinary inquiry into the historic roots and contemporary practices of incarceration. Throughout the team-taught course, “Locked Up: Incarceration in Question,” professors Marygold Walsh-Dilley and Megan Jacobs are investigating this topic through the interdisciplinary lenses of sociology and art.
The course integrates methodologies and approaches from each field. Faculty members are applying the photographic understanding of depth of field (shallow and deep) as a kind of metaphor for how one can address the concept of incarceration: personally or universally.
Jacobs and Walsh-Dilley have galvanized support to invite the award-winning photographer Ross to the UNM campus to give a public lecture and roundtable discussion in collaboration with the Honors College and Student Affairs, the College of Fine Arts, the Department of Sociology, Corinne Wolfe Organization and the Society for Photographic Education-Southwest region.
Ross has been the recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Annie E. Casey, MacArthur Foundations and was awarded a Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellowship. Ross’s work explores the efficacy and ethics of the treatment of American juveniles in detention centers.
His books, “Juvenile In Justice and Girls In Justice,” explore the intersection of photography and sociological research proving to be a powerful “catalyst for change” and a model for Honors students who are learning in an interdisciplinary environment.
Earlier in the semester, the Honors College hosted the award-winning poet, novelist and memoirist, Jimmy Santiago Baca, to speak to class members of “Locked Up.” Baca provided students with the opportunity to ask questions about his experiences while being incarcerated in a maximum-security prison as well as his later projects working with prisoners.
He spoke candidly about his experiences and the critical role that poetry played in keeping a semblance of his identity. After having read his memoir, “A Place to Stand,” Baca’s discussion allowed the class to begin their study by looking at the large topic of incarceration through the example of one voice, one person’s experience regarding incarceration.
Faculty have assigned the class projects that merge sociology and art, such as their infographic project in which students gather data from academic journals, cull it, and ultimately create an infographic utilizing aesthetic considerations of design such as hierarchy, proximity, unity, color, typography.
A thesis statement is forged from the data and that in turn is visually represented. Ultimately, the faculty are constructing opportunities for students to think in an interdisciplinary manner. Jacobs states, “we aspire for our students to use new tools and methodologies to prepare them for a world that will require such problem solving.”
In the spring the faculty and students will continue this yearlong course. During that semester, students will embark on service learning projects in order to assist detained juveniles, incarcerated adults, and those transitioning back to their communities.