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Nigel Poor's The San Quentin Project - Milwaukee


Craig Mastantuono/Leah Thomas/Chad Shamali Oct. 17, 2018

We talk a lot these days about mass incarceration, but what does it look like? What goes on inside prison walls, and what is life behind bars really like for incarcerated people and the people involved in their lives?

Visual artist Nigel Poor’s San Quentin Project: the Men of San Quentin State Prison comes to the Milwaukee Art Museum, which opens to the public on October 18th, 2018, and runs through March 10, 2019. Mastantuono & Coffee is proud to be the education sponsor of this important exhibition. The San Quentin Project offers an opportunity to question assumptions about incarcerated populations and consider the role of art to reframe narratives. The Project derives from San Quentin State Prison in California, which is currently at 122% capacity - itself an example of mass incarceration. Focusing on the men incarcerated there, the project presents archived photos recovered from San Quentin, curated to expose and foster personal narratives about life in prison. The exhibition presents inmate and prison-life storytelling through Ms. Poor's unique photo mapping exercises and the acclaimed Radiotopia podcast Ear Hustle, co-hosted by Poor and San Quentin inmate Earlonne Woods, recorded from inside the prison.

Mastantuono & Coffee has sponsored The San Quentin Project in cooperation with the Milwaukee Art Museum to fuel the public conversation on criminal justice reform in the Milwaukee community, deeply affected by mass incarceration with a disproportionate amount of African Americans in prison. A 2013 study by the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee found that while the national average of incarcerated African American men is at 6.7%, Wisconsin nearly doubles that with 12.8% of African American men being incarcerated. Over-reliance on incarceration in criminal justice and disparate prison rates for African American men in Wisconsin are self-evident.

This is a topic that Mastantuono and Coffee has addressed long before this issue came to the forefront of our headlines in a series on our Wisconsin Crime & Justice blog titled Wisconsin: We’re the Best at Locking Up African American Men, Parts I, II, III, and IV.

We hope that The San Quentin Project and its education components are well-attended and move the community dialogue about mass and disparate incarceration forward. For more information on the San Quentin Project, as well as ongoing community discussions and events, please visit Milwaukee Art Museum.