Calls From the Pen
Media Literacy Project’s one-night extravaganza keeps the line open for inmates
“People who are incarcerated have a greater outcome when they’re released if they have greater support and contact with family,” says Avila, media justice organizer with the Media Literacy Project. It’s a strategy that can lower the number of offenders who return to prison. But even though the plan is simple, it isn’t always easy. Phone rates for prison calls are often inflated, and “in some places, it can be $17 or $15 minimum for a call,” says Avila.
This is one of the issues Avila and her organization hope to bring attention to on Saturday, Aug. 4, with a parade, theatrical performances, film, live music and poetry. From School House to Jail House was borne out of a partnership with Roadside Theater, a Kentucky-based troupe that travels around the country helping groups build productions with an altruistic message. The Media Literacy Project also collaborated on this project with nearly a dozen other organizations, including the Native Health Initiative, Encuentro Latino, El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, Zuni Pueblo, Wings Ministry, the Gordon Bernell Charter School and the Metropolitan Detention Center. Rap groups Sons of the Most High and the Rockmore Foundation also came on board, as did record label A.S.I. Records. The product of these collaborations has been three months in the making. And in the hopes of getting as many people as possible to the event, it’s also free.
Avila says that after months of work, she’s eager to see the final product. Avila is also the co-director of the South Valley’s Día de los Muertos parade, and she describes coordinating this effort as an entirely different experience. “It’s an organic process, and the way it’s come together has been pretty amazing.”
Skulls and Sickles: The Visual Rhetoric of Death in ASARO's Woodblock Prints at UNM Zimmerman Library
When the regional Mexican government violently put down a peaceful teacher’s strike in Oaxaca de Juárez in 2006, the brutality of the police inspired a group of artists in the community to form themselves into a collective called the Assembly of Revolutionary Artists of Oaxaca (ASARO) to protest the bloodshed. Two current exhibits in Albuquerque showcase their work. One exhibit at the National Hispanic Cultural Center was curated by the University Libraries and Learning Sciences Curator of Latin American and Iberian Collections Suzanne Schadl and her graduate student Michael de la Rosa. One at the Herzstein Gallery on the second floor of Zimmerman Library on the UNM campus was curated by graduate student Megan Jirón. She writes “Unlike the European or Anglo-American perspective, Mexico’s inhabitants embrace death. They confront it with a sense of playfulness, defiance and acceptance.”
Above the East China Sea at Bookworks
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