Eight years ago, SpiritHouse, a Durham cultural organizing collective, began examining the ways violence, prison and policing had "seeped into" African-American homes, work and schools. Since then, the privatized corrections industry has boomed, and it remains a growth industry in an economy dogged by recession. In that time, changes in educational policy have resulted in what the American Civil Liberties Union now calls a "school-to-prison pipeline," which it views as "one of the most important civil rights challenges facing our nation today." Queer and transgender youth are now disproportionately found behind bars. And even in Durham, reportedly America's most tolerant city, driving, walking and shopping while black remain potentially suspicious activities, with aftermaths that can haunt the conspicuously surveilled long after.
Collective Sun is an original and intergenerational multimedia performance, combining theater, visual and audio art in an examination of the impact of incarceration and policing on our bodies, families and communities. A cast of eight activist artists, including Executive Director Nia Wilson, Mya Hunter and Thaddaeus Edwards, has collected "stories of resilience and hope" to give voice and visibility to those already eclipsed by the prison-industrial complex—and to those who still live in its shadow. —Byron Woods