Photographs from Former Lives: GMU’s “Windows From Prison” Exhibit

George Mason University’s Fairfax campus displays images of home as requested by Washingtonians who are now incarcerated throughout the United States.

By Katie Bowles

Logo courtesy of Mark Strandquist.

Quite a few connotations go along with the idea of being in prison, but not many rush to think of the individual prisoners themselves. Students from George Mason University and D.C.’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts are hoping to change the way we think of mass incarceration with their new exhibit “Windows From Prison,” up for viewing today through April 21.

“Windows From Prison” is a project based on a simple question posed to inmates: “If you could have a window in your cell, what place from your past would it look out to?” This was asked of prisoners originally from D.C. who are now incarcerated across the United States (see above logo), and the answers are both moving and telling.

Photo and letter courtesy of Mark Strandquist

GMU and Duke Ellington School students took these responses and created the pictures requested by the prisoners, then mailed them to the inmates. These pictures are now on display on 10-foot banners in the main public square on GMU’s campus.  

Along with the visual display, GMU will also be hosting film screenings, workshops, community forums and other events in order to educate and discuss mass incarceration and its alternatives. 

Head to GMU anytime between now and April 21 to view the photographs. See the full schedule of events here.