A new exhibition at ASU Art Museum is looking at history of mass incarceration

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Paul Rucker is a multi-talented artist who works in the visual and musical arts. He combines visual art, original compositions, and performances to explore issues such as human rights and basic human emotions. Rucker’s work will be featured along with other artists at the ASU Art Museum that examines mass incarceration. Rucker talked about his art and his part of the exhibit.

Along with Rucker’s work, 12 different artists provide a story about the history of mass incarceration. “One out of 99 people are incarcerated in the United States,” Rucker said. Art has the power to tell stories to create empathy and understanding around these issues, he added. According to Rucker, the United States spends $182 billion each year on incarcerated people.

Rucker’s piece exhibited, “The Joy of Land Development,” details Geronimo. Geronimo was an Apache leader and medicine man. Rucker’s inspiration came from a photo he had of Geronimo eight years ago. “Geronimo is a symbolic figure that was used to signify ‘now this land is ours,'” he said. Geronimo was incarcerated about 300 miles from where the exhibit is taking place.

When detailing his exhibit, Rucker touched on the desensitization of Geronimo’s name, as well as the history, appropriation, and image.

Art tells a different kind of story. “If you make art, you don’t want to tell anyone what to think,” he said. “You want to present the evidence.” He mentioned that the most effective art presents the evidence.

When looking at exhibits and different artwork, Rucker said he wants people to think about who we are as people and how people got here. “Did we get here through kindness or did we get here through being barbaric and colonized?”

“It’s not a soul-searching aspect. It’s a ‘what stories are not being told’ to our children.” Rucker said that artists are challenging the narrative.

Paul Rucker, multi-talented artist

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