Reflections on Half a Year of Writing Letters to Prison
Since beginning our series of Writing Letters to Prison in December 2016, a lot has happened in the country and around the world. Arts institutions across the country have drawn lines in the sand through strikes in solidarity with immigrants and women, registered dissent in a variety of programs and increased visibility of marginalized groups.
A question of the purpose of art comes to mind in times like these, and the answer seems to recognize humanity in every human. For the art world to be resistant to geopolitics, this must take place on a programmatic level as well as an aesthetic level in the works of art on exhibit.
Letters were once a commonplace, one-to-one recognition and validation of humanity. The anachronism of writing a letter in a time of tech-based communication suits the ideological return to a time before profitable and Draconian practices became entrenched in society.
While we are alternately surprised and disheartened by world events, keeping up correspondence with political prisoners has helped us maintain a focus on helping one another in a mindful and heartfelt way. One political prisoner correspondent put it in these words:
“Your participation in your letter writing campaign is an example of 'real humanity,' ... all the letters I get from folks like you are an enigma to my peers. Yet out of these pointed mysteries, my empty and lonely peers glimpse selfless love, and a spark of life appears inside of their hearts, too! It’s quite wonderful- we invest in a little (or a lot), and love springs up in our peers."
We look forward to continuing the correspondence and encourage everyone to connect in any way possible to those who are physically trapped by the system, but whose hearts remain in our communities.
Start a letter writing group with your friends or search for a political prisoner letter writing group near you. Writing Letters to Prison meets every third Saturday of the month from 1:00 - 3:00 PM at Amos Eno Gallery, 56 Bogart Street, Brooklyn, NY 11206.