The Compassion Project — a powerful. moving. educational. innovative multi-media photography exhibit for social change — will be open to the public from June 7 until Sept. 23 at the Coral Gables Museum, 285 Aragon Ave.
Twenty photographers donated their time and talents to capture the essence of 25 formerly incarcerated women. Their powerful photographs reveal the real women — mothers, daughters, and wives — who ended up behind bars, and have now returned to society.
Through photography, a film, an interactive app, and educational curriculum, The Compassion Project aims to redefine the preconceptions about women behind bars.
Curated by photographer Starr Sariego, whose work includes the critically acclaimed Bold Beauty Project, the exhibit is a result of her desire to create photography exhibitions designed to create social change.
“I’ve always been drawn to helping underrepresented communities through photography and storytelling,” she said. “Combining these passions and turning them into an educational exhibit for social change is what truly motivates me.”
One of the many innovative and educational aspects of the exhibit is the downloadable app called The Compassion Project. As a museum-goer strolls from photograph to photograph, they will be able listen to the women speak in their own words. The app also will feature a curriculum guide and discussion points for more in-depth study into women and incarceration. The exhibit will also feature an art film and an educational film about LEAP.
The Compassion photographers Include:
Maggie Steber, known for her many years in photojournalism working throughout the world and a recent recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and 2019 Pulitzer prize finalist. (http://wovexhibition.org/photographers/maggie-steber/bio);
Donato Di Camilo, formerly incarcerated himself and mostly self-taught, committed to telling the story of people he meets on the streets. (www.donatodicamillo.com);
Johanne Rahaman, a talented observer and reporter of Black life in Florida. (www.blackflorida.org), and
Mary Beth Koeth, gifted editorial and commercial photographer, and amazing photographic storyteller. (www.mbkoeth.com).
The Compassion Project benefits LEAP 501(c)(3), the only program in the state of Florida that addresses the women’s pathways to prison, which include domestic violence, sexual trauma, and substance abuse.
Facts about incarcerated women
• 82 percent of women in prison were victims of childhood trauma;
• Since 1980, the number of women in U.S. prisons has increased by 700 percent, outpacing men by 50 percent;
• 70 percent are addicted to drugs/alcohol, and
• 75 percent have been victimized by domestic violence as adults.
LEAP’s positive and long-lasting influences on effected women include in-prison business education and personal development classes. While more than half of former inmates end up back in prison, the recidivism rate for the to-date 200 LEAP graduates is only 5 percent. The savings to taxpayers is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, not including the benefits of safer, healthier neighborhoods. For those who are reunited with their families, along with restored self-esteem and, most importantly, saved lives, the value is immeasurable.
A generous grant from LUSH Cosmetics Charity Foundation, has made the project possible.
The project is open to the community and student groups.
For more Information visit www.thecompassionprojectmiami.com/.