“Interrupted Life” is a traveling public art installation that examines the lives of incarcerated mothers and their families as well as the policies and politics of incarceration in the . Curated by historian Rickie Solinger, Director of WAKEUP/Arts in New York , this exhibit links eight installations. Works include the “Real Cost of Prisons” comic book project, the San Francisco Photovoice Project, and an installation by CAPACITY, a youth arts program in Columbus, Ohio . The result is a powerful commentary on imprisonment; the emotional impact incarceration has on families; and stigmas generated by incarceration.

Here in Vermont, over 1,000 women go to prison each year. Over three-quarters of those women are mothers, the overwhelming majority of which are single mothers. Eighty percent of those women are non-violent, and up to 60% of the women who are incarcerated have not committed new crimes – they have violated a technical condition of their community supervision. In 2007 over 2,000 children were affected by their mother’s incarceration and the numbers continue to increase.

When mothers are incarcerated, their children are often left in situations where their needs are misunderstood, where poverty prevails and where they suffer emotional neglect and abuse. They are among the most at-risk, yet least visible, populations of children. They must often leave behind all that is familiar – parents, schools, siblings – not always told the truth about where their parents are and many lose contact with their parent. The stories of these children and their families are the stories of your friends, neighbors, and even your family. The hope for children who have a parent incarcerated in Vermont is that they do not become collateral damage to their parent’s criminal behavior.

Our thanks go out to Casey Family Services, CCTV, Chittenden Bank, Mercy Connections, The Permanent Fund for the Well Being of Vermont Children, Photo Garden, the University of Vermont, Kids-A-Part at Vermont Children’s Aid, the Vermont Commission on Women, the Vermont Department of Corrections, Vermont Works for Women, and WAKEUP/Arts for their support of this exhibit.