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Carol Jacobsen Launches New Book at her NYC Gallery Exhibition


Denise Bibro Fine Art (529 West 20th Street 4W, New York) presents Life on Trial, an exhibition of photography and a video installation by Stamps School of Art & Design professor Carol Jacobsen, on view March 7‑April 6, 2019. The exhibition is co-sponsored by Amnesty International with support from The University of Michigan Office of Research, and the Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design.

As part of the exhibition, Jacobsen will also celebrate the launch of her book, For Dear Life: Women’s Decriminalization and Human Rights in Focus (University of Michigan Press, 2019) with a panel discussion at the Denise Bibro Fine Art gallery on Thursday, April 4 from 6 – 8 pm.

Works in the exhibition include Life on Trial, a video piece that examines women’s criminalization from the perspective of a woman who killed her rapist in self-defense and was convicted of first-degree murder. She was sentenced to life in prison. As an activist during her incarceration, she was a named plaintiff on six different lawsuits against the State for sexual assault by guards, educational parity, visiting rights and other issues on behalf of women prisoners.

Also included in the exhibition are selections from Letters of the Law, a photographic series on incarcerated women with whom Jacobsen has worked for more than twenty-five years to free from life sentences through her nonprofit, Michigan Women’s Justice & Clemency Project. Her work has helped to free 12 women from life sentences. 

The book, For Dear Life, chronicles feminist and artist Carol Jacobsen’s deep commitment to the causes of justice and human rights, and focuses a critical lens on an American criminal-legal régime that imparts racist, gendered, and classist modes of punishment to women lawbreakers. Jacobsen’s tireless work with and for women prisoners is charted in this rich assemblage of images and texts that reveal the collective strategies she and the prisoners have employed to receive justice. The book gives evidence that women’s lawbreaking is often an effort to survive gender-based violence. The faces, letters, and testimonies of dozens of incarcerated women with whom Jacobsen has worked present a visceral yet politicized chorus of voices against the criminal-legal systems that fail us all. Their voices are joined by those of leading feminist scholars in essays that illuminate the arduous methods of dissent that Jacobsen and the others have employed to win freedom for more than a dozen women sentenced to life imprisonment, and to free many more from torturous prison conditions. The book is a document to Jacobsen’s love and lifelong commitment to creating feminist justice and freedom, and to the efficacy of her artistic, legal, and extralegal political actions on behalf of women.

Carol Jacobsen is an award winning artist whose work actively confronts issues of women’s criminalization, human rights, and censorship. Her films and photography have been exhibited and screened worldwide, including at Lincoln Center, New York; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Cultura Contemporanea, Barcelona; Kunstforum, Bonn, and elsewhere. She has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Paul Robeson Foundation, Women in Film Foundation, and others.

Her exhibitions and screenings in New York and abroad have been sponsored by Amnesty International since 1998. She is Professor of Art and Women’s Studies at The University of Michigan and serves as Director of the Michigan Women’s Justice & Clemency Project. She is represented by Denise Bibro Fine Art, 529 W. 20th Street, New York, NY 10011.