"Women in Prison" Project acknowledged as innovative for interdisciplinary methods and appeal
Chicago—The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) has awarded this year’s Lawrence W. Towner award to Beyondmedia Education of Chicago for its project, "Women in Prison." IHC Executive Director, Kristina Valaitis will present the award during a brief ceremony at 7 p.m on March 6, 2003 in the Thorne Auditorium of Chicago’s Northwestern University School of Law. The award presentation will follow a 6:15 p.m. performance of "Echoes of A Caged Soul." The performance, ceremony, and post-performance discussion are free and open to the public.
Every January, the IHC board votes on the award from a list of five grants from the previous year, identified by IHC staff as embracing unconventional or unique methods in pursuit of ambitious goals. With the support of a major grant from the IHC, Beyondmedia published a handbook incorporating essays penned by nationally renowned social justice scholars and a selection of oral narratives and poetry by women prisoners and former prisoners. The collection serves as a companion piece for a constellation of other programs documenting women’s life in prison.
Written and edited by a unique collaboration of academics, activists and formerly imprisoned women, "Women in Prison" undergirded a total, integrated popular literary project, including a video, a speakers bureau of women former prisoners, an interactive art and education installation, and a web site, all aimed at raising awareness of the complex issues surrounding the status of incarcerated women in the United States. "Women in Prison" is a major contribution to interdisciplinary humanities scholarship and a much-needed link between the academy and the community.
The Towner Award was created by the Illinois Humanities Council Board of Directors to honor William "Bill" Towner, past President of the Newberry Library and chair of the IHC board of directors. Towner was beloved for his venturesome spirit and the award was instituted to encourage "risk-taking in the development and execution of a public humanities project."
Previous winners of the Towner Award include Video Machete for their Global Youth Project, the Rockford Art Museum for the Hager Collection of African-American Contemporary Folk Art, the University of Chicago for its project "Trading Fours: Jazz and its Milieu," the Chicago Historical Society for its project "A House Divided," and the Illinois State Museum for its floating exhibit "Harvesting the River."
For more information about "Women in Prison" or "Echoes of A Caged Soul" please contact Beyondmedia Education at 773.973.2280 or visit their website at www.beyondmedia.org. Further information about the Illinois Humanities Council may be obtained by visiting www.prairie.org or calling 312.422.5580.
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