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September 13 @ 4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

Pictures of Progress

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Reception & Talk on Tuesday, September 13 at 4:30pm. 

It has come to our attention that the marketing materials for the “Pictures of Progress” exhibition on display in the Carlson Tower Gallery may have been harmful to members of our community. We hear you. We apologize.

Manuel Metlock, the School of Restorative Arts student pictured, offers his voice as a contributing artist regarding his image in marketing materials. His full letter is on display in the gallery. We invite you to engage with Manuel’s words, and a variety of art forms from all contributing artists who share the personal journey of School of Restorative Arts students.

“..collectively, the goal was/is, to bring you through a journey, with a deeper glance, one should be able to see the pain, the strength, and the full intensity of those moments ….The intent was to give a deeper look into the individual so that a single story narrative would not define the person. How many asked these questions? What is his story? Where is he from? How can I get involved with my brother? Most people will not invest in understanding…as they do in judging.”– Manuel Metlock

Join us for a discussion with graduates of the School of Restorative Arts program, family, and friends of students in the SRA program at Stateville Correctional Center, and photographer, Karl Clifton-Soderstrom at the reception.

Photo used with permission from student photographed, Manuel Metlock.

Location: Carlson Tower Gallery.

In 1865, Frederick Douglass delivered one of several important speeches on photography titled “Pictures and Progress” wherein the orator, writer and social justice agitator advocated for photography’s power in the abolitionist and antiracism movements. As he stated, “Men of all conditions and classes can now see themselves as others see them, and as they will be seen by those [who] shall come after them.”

In 2016, North Park University professors began teaching theology classes inside Stateville Correctional Center. In 2018, the program launched into a four year masters program known as the “School of Restorative Arts.” From the beginning, the students in these programs were photographed by Karl Clifton-Soderstrom. When Karl first photographed the students in 2016, many of the men had not had a photograph taken of them, other than their prison ID, in over a decade. The first cohort of masters students graduated in May of 2022. This exhibit is the result of a collaboration between Karl and the SRA students, and includes photographs, reflections by the men inside and the visionaries of the School of Restorative Arts.

These images speak to the hope and contradiction that is a learning community inside a prison. They call to mind what Frederick Douglass said in his speech: “Poets, prophets, and reformers are all picture-makers – and this ability is the secret of their power and of their achievements. They see what ought to be by the reflection of what is, and endeavor to remove the contradiction.” The Carlson Tower Gallery presents exhibitions throughout the year and is open to the public Monday – Friday from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.



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