The San Quentin Project

Lecture | October 28 | 6:30-8 p.m. |  Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

 Nigel Poor; Michael Nelson

 Arts + Design

Presented by BAMPFA

Nigel Poor, Artist
Michael Nelson, Writer and Activist

Artist Nigel Poor presents various collaborative projects she has worked on inside San Quentin Prison, including the San Quentin archive project currently on view at BAMPFA, and talks about the award winning podcast Ear Hustle, which she co-created and co-hosts with residents of San Quentin.

The exhibition The San Quentin Project: Nigel Poor and the Men of San Quentin State Prison follows the evolution of Poor's social art practice and her collaboration with men incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison in Marin County. The exhibition features visual documents made during this collaboration as well as photographs from the prison's own archive, and also a listening station with episodes of Ear Hustle.
The San Quentin Project gallery will be open prior to the program, starting at 5 p.m.

In 2011, Poor's interest in investigating the marks of people's existence that they leave behind led her to San Quentin, where she taught history of photography classes for the Prison University Project, an experience that changed the focus of her practice. Her award-winning work at San Quentin has been recognized by the Society for Professional Journalism and with the A Blade of Grass Fellowship. Her work has been widely exhibited nationally, and is held in collections such as the Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art. She is a professor of photography at California State University, Sacramento.

Poor will be joined by Michael Nelson, a former San Quentin State Prison resident whose essay about photography is included in the exhibition. Nelson, who was incarcerated as an adult at age fifteen, works as a case manager for a housing program serving HIV-positive homeless people, is active in restorative justice in Alameda County departments of law enforcement, and trains service dogs.


Arts + Design Mondays @ BAMPFA is organized and sponsored by UC Berkeley’s Arts + Design Initiative. In-kind support is provided by BAMPFA.

The series is co-curated by the UC Berkeley Department of Art Practice; American Indian Graduate Program; Art, Technology, and Culture Colloquium; Berkeley Center for New Media; and Graduate School of Journalism, and by the City of Richmond.

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