Carol Jacobsen Retires from Stamps, Teaches at U-M Law School
For more than thirty years, award-winning social documentary artist and Stamps professor Carol Jacobsen has leveraged her power as an artist, feminist, and scholar to create political change.
Since she arrived at the University of Michigan in 1995, she has been introducing generations of Stamps students to the ways that photography, film, and video can play a role in the movement for social justice and feminist change. In addition, Jacobsen also serves as Director of the Michigan Women’s Clemency Project. Here, she advocates for the human rights of women prisoners and seeks freedom for women wrongly incarcerated.
Under Jacobsen’s direction, the project has freed 13 women from life sentences and continues to raise awareness of human rights violations of incarcerated women in the state of Michigan. Jacobsen’s book, For Dear Life: Women's Decriminalization and Human Rights in Focus (University of Michigan Press, 2019) focuses a critical lens on an American criminal-legal regime that imparts racist, gendered, and classist modes of punishment to women lawbreakers. She has also published critical studies and essays in feminist, art, law, and social studies journals.
The interdisciplinary nature of Carol’s work is reflected in her academic appointments in Women & Gender Studies and the Law School, her long association with the Institute for Research on Women and Gender, and her service as a graduate student advisor for students across campus. In 2010, Carol received the Sarah Goddard Power Award in recognition of her significant contributions to the betterment of women at U-M and globally.
As a fine artist, Jacobsen’s work actively confronts issues of women’s criminalization, human rights, and censorship and has been exhibited and screened at venues worldwide, including New York’s Lincoln Center, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, Centre de Cultural Contemporanea in Barcelona, the Kunstforum in Bonn, Temple Gallery in Rome, the Photography Biennial of Wanganui, New Zealand, the International Women’s Conference in Beijing sponsored by Human Rights Watch, and other venues. Her work is represented by Denise Bibro Gallery in New York City, and her exhibitions and screenings in both the U.S. and abroad have been sponsored by Amnesty International since 1998.
While the Stamps community will miss Jacobsen’s presence in the classroom, she continues to serve U-M students at the Law School, teaching Interdisciplinary Problem Solving (Law 741), a course that brings together small groups of U-M graduate and professional students work with faculty to explore and offer solutions to emerging, complex problems.
When asked if she had a message for the next generation of artists and designers, Jacobsen replied with enthusiasm: “The world needs you!”
13 women freed from life sentences through Michigan Women’s Justice & Clemency Project (MWJCP)
Left column from top: Levonne Roberts, freed 2009 through clemency granted by Governor Jennifer Granholm based on MWJCP clemency petition, testimony, and support; Barbara Anderson, freed 2009 through MWJCP clemency petition, testimony, and support; Mildred Perry, freed 2009 through MWJCP clemency petition, testimony, and support; Tonya Carson, freed 2018 through MWJCP assistance on clemency petition, testimony, and support; Violet Allen, freed 1999, based on a motion in court filed by MWJCP legal director Lynn D’Orio.
Center column from top: Doreen Washington, freed 2008 through clemency granted by Governor Granholm based on MWJCP clemency petition, testimony, and support; Joyce Cousins, freed 2013 based on MWJCP testimony and support; Juanita Thomas, freed 1998 based on a motion filed in court by MWJCP volunteer attorney Andrea Lyon, with evidence developed by MWJCP founder Susan Fair and University of Michigan law students.
Right column from top: Melissa Chapman, freed 2019 based on MWJCP clemency petition, testimony, and support; Minnie Boose, freed 2008 through clemency granted by Governor Granholm based on MWJCP clemency petition, testimony, and support; Linda Hamilton, freed 2009 through clemency granted by Governor Granholm based on MWJCP clemency petition, testimony, and support; Melanise Patterson, freed 2017 through MWJCP clemency petition, testimony, and support; Karen Kantzler, freed 2017 through MWJCP clemency petition, testimony, and support.