I Could Tell You 'Bout My Life: Art and Incarceration

When: Thursday, February 7, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Price: $12 & up | $10 for Museum Members
Still from "I Could Tell You 'Bout My Life"

On April 10, 2017, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed a law to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 years old. Now, 16- and 17-year-olds are no longer prosecuted and incarcerated as adults. However, when Michael Martin got arrested at the age of 17, this law did not exist and a judge sentenced him to five months in jail at Rikers Island. Two years later, at the age of 19, Martin filmed, narrated, and directed the short film I Could Tell You 'Bout My Life (2018, 26 min), in which he reflects on his incarceration on Rikers and the effect it had on his life. Join us for the film's premiere, followed by a conversation with speakers including artist and educator Messiah Ramkissoon, Martin's mentor at the Friends of the Island Academy, and visual artist Sophia Dawson, about the intersection of art and incarceration.

Additional speakers to be announced, check back or join our email list for updates.

Co-presented with BYkids.

This screening is part of our Activism on Film series, which delves into stories of social activism in New York City inspired by our ongoing Activist New York exhibition. To view all the programs in the series, click here

About the Director: 
Michael Martin filmed, narrated, and directed I Could Tell You 'Bout My Life through the BYkids program. Mentored by filmmakers Chiemi Karasawa (award-winning documentary filmmaker and founder of Isotope Films) and Hollis Meminger (prolific cinematographer with television credits including The Blacklist, Narcos and Younger), Martin reflects on his incarceration on Rikers Island. To view a trailer of the film, click here

About the Speakers:
Messiah Ramkissoon 
is a Trinidad-born, New York-based hip-hop and spoken word artist, creative writing instructor, and youth activist. After earning a scholarship from Oprah Winfrey and attending Howard University, Messiah became a three-time champion of the Apollo Theater showcase where he combined art and activism by illuminating the HIV crisis through his poetry.  He began his career teaching poetry at Washington DC’s Duke Ellington School of the Arts and since 2012, has served as director and facilitator for Friends of Island Academy, providing creative writing coaching, mentorship, counseling and reentry services for incarcerated young men, the program through which he met Michael Martin.

Sophia Dawson is a Brooklyn based visual artist who has dedicated her life’s work to exposing the stories and experiences of individuals who are striving to overcome the injustices they face both individually and collectively.  By raising awareness of these individuals she aims to humanize social justice issues and to prevent such experiences from being repeated in the future. Her work has recently been exhibited in Rush Arts Gallery and the Bronx Museum for the Arts.  She is a recent participant of the Whitney Museum's Independent Studio program and a current resident of the Bronx Museum of Art’s first residency program.  She leads art workshops at Rikers Island through Artistic Noise, a Harlem-based nonprofit that works with court involved youth. Subjects in her practice include mothers who have lost their children to police brutality both past and present, the Central Park 5, and political prisoners from the Black Liberation movement who are still incarcerated within the United States.

About BYkids
BYkids mentors teens to tell their stories through film and share the realities of global inequality and injustice on the world stage. Kids learn citizenry through empathy, using film as a starting point for cross-cultural conversations. BYkids’ films are viewed and discussed by 248 million teens, educators and their families, creating understanding through storytelling.

$15 for Adults | $12 for Seniors, Students, and Educators (with ID) | $10 for Museum Members
Includes Museum admission.

Members: To receive your discount, click on the "Buy Tickets" button above, then sign in to your account on the ticketing page.

Groups of 10 or more get discounts; contact us at programs@mcny.org or 917.492.3395.

Accessibility: Assistive listening devices are available and our auditorium wheelchair lift can accommodate manual and motorized wheelchairs (max. capacity 500 lbs). Please contact the Museum at 917.492.3333 or info@mcny.org with any questions.

Our Supporters and Partners

Activist New York and its associated programs are made possible by The Puffin Foundation, Ltd

Activist New York is the inaugural exhibition in The Puffin Foundation Gallery, which is dedicated to the ways in which ordinary New Yorkers have exercised their power to shape the city's and the nation's future.

This program is co-presented by BYkids.

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