A Project on Incarceration by Jim Duignan
Butterflies move in fear of being hunted by birds, predators with much larger wings only by accident. And the birds became wolves biting at the children in cages, themselves protected from nothing, really.
This project is a collection of objects built, considering the poetic outlines of hope, stress, and a selection of sentient wishes for our city on incarceration. It equally, reaches back in time. A time in the early-mid 1990s when I went inside the Juvenile Detention Center with friend and artist Michael Piazza. I was taken exactly 25 years ago, by the many human-made holes in the ground and the mandala that has appeared to me over my life, beautifully spotted and spiraled, steel-clad coverings to possibilities of passage that remain, invisible. The collection includes a publication of drawings and words on a hand-drawn map of the city identifying sites of incarceration, sites of passages, and sites of healing. The texts provide views from many youths and those released from incarceration. There are large rubbed drawings from youth at SkyArt under the Skyway made as gifts to the wishes of youth who remain detained. There is a wall of small built, modified, and found objects as talismans that equally document this year noting the ideas, stories, and relationships built. The objects in plastic possess the strata of the mandala, the outline of the true self, stress, and hope. Hope in the future and to love, relieving the stress of uncertainties and models, and identifying a true self in the shared activities of childhood where the imagination was protected and unleashed and will again be revisited. There is a writing table of golden warm honey onyx as the bees became symbols of resilience, like the butterflies who travel great distances aware of the challenges but not detoured by the risk. Finally, simple seats designed for humans and will be prepared and set outside at Alphonsus Academy Center for the Arts for the children to continue connecting nature as metaphor and fulcrum to undertake actions of change and a changing world as well-wishers and those slits cut into the seats act as windows for remaining Monarchs to have sanctuary in Chicago from the birds who could be anybody.