An unusual exhibition opened this week in the halls of one the oldest educational institutions in the United States, as a series of self portraits by Chilean women in prison made the trip to the Ivy League college of Dartmouth.
Called “Expresarte,” the exhibition was organized by Dartmouth Women and Gender Studies Professor Patricia Hernández and Dartmouth Tucker Fellow Nell Pierce, who traveled to Chile in December last year to work with women at the Penitentiary Center of Talca.
Hernández, who emigrated from Chile in 1983, is the creator of “Telling My Story,” a program which brings theater, music and dance into prisons.
“The whole idea of this program is to work with people behind visible and invisible social walls,” Hernández told The Dartmouth. “Inmates are the people who are not having their voice being heard.”
The Chilean Dartmouth professor’s involvement in the Talca project culminated in a highly successful theatrical performance put on by inmates for the entire facility, which drew on the experiences from the women’s lives.
Pierce’s involvement in the project was to introduce a self-portrait course, which asked inmates to reflect upon the meaning of self-portraiture, and work together to create collaborative pieces in the style of famous artists.
Afterwards, they were asked to create individual self-portraits, consisting of four squares, each completed in a different medium and showing different parts of their faces.
“Their final pieces allowed them to delve more deeply into a single medium and create a final, complete portrait,” Pierce said.
A selection of the final products of the course are on now on display in Dartmouth’s Russo Gallery, where they will remain until May 5.