‘Impact on Innocence’ shares hardships

Ellie Sherry — Reporter

Last Tuesday the gallery titled, “The Impact on Innocence,” and was set up in Lyman Center and created by Deborah McDuff Williams.

The Impact on Innocence was given its title because the images all depict a way in which mass incarceration in the United States affects the people who go to jail and their family members. Each charcoal drawing had a poem under it that told the story of the person that was in the image.

These stories ranged from people being illegal immigrants even though America was the only country they ever remembered, to grandmothers who had to take care of their grandchildren because the child’s parents are in jail.

“I decided to do this project because I wanted to shed light on the devastation that children and parents endure because their family member is incarcerated,” said McDuff. “People talk about mass incarceration in terms of getting the prisoners out, but the devastation on the children and families are still there. What are you going to do about the trauma?”

McDuff also said she sees a correlation between people who are in prison or jail and people who grew up or were in poverty.

“The real problem is poverty leads to criminality. If you’re hungry and you have no place to stay, what are you gonna do? If you figure you don’t have an education and you’re not going to school and you’re not getting fed because you don’t want to go to school,” she said. “Because there you are being ostracized and your mama’s over here and your daddy’s over there what are you going to do?”

While this event was held at Southern, it was open to the public, so Southern students as well as people in the community were there to see the art and read the poems that went with them.

“I think the artwork here is incredible. The visual representation of the stories just puts a whole different spin on how we look at a person’s story because it’s not just someone’s words its someone’s life,” said public health major, Alyssa Walters, a senior. I also think that there being a story to go along with each piece of artwork is a really moving part of this exhibit.” Students were not the only people who came to the exhibit, several professors came as well.

“These images are very expressive, and some of them are very challenging when you read the wall labels about what has happened to people,” said Armen Marsoobian, chair of the philosophy department.

“It is interesting this Cambodian man who brought as a child here and he got in trouble with the law, so he was never granted naturalization, and he was deported.”

Deboarah McDuff said she wanted to bring the emotion of what is happening to people come forward. In her charcoal drawings she said she was trying to capture an emotion to make people think about what happens to the families of people who are incarcerated.

“I know the effects it [incarceration] has on me, like constantly worrying, when would I hear from them next, maybe they’ll get early release maybe they won’t,” Walters said. “It’s a very emotional process not only for them but also for the people on the outside, and I am very empathetic to people who are put in that situation.”

Photo credit: Izzy Manzo

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