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Behind the Wall

Art & Writing from Prison

“Behind the Wall” was a traveling exhibition of drawings, paintings, letters, stories, and poems produced by people in prison. It was displayed at Tompkins County Public Library in Ithaca in February 2023, Seymour Library in Auburn in March, Seneca Falls Library in April, Coburn Free Library in Owego in May, and Cortland Free Library in June.


“Behind the Wall” included 140 works by 90 individuals in detention facilities in 22 states. There was a letter-writing station where visitors could send feedback directly to the participating artists. The libraries organized special programming to accompany the exhibition. 

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The artworks and writings in “Behind the Wall” were collected by Prisoner Express, a project of the Durland Alternatives Library, and curated by Ithaca-area artist Treacy Ziegler. Prisoner Express uses newsletters, book exchanges, and art and creative writing programs to foster hope and a sense of community among incarcerated people around the country. The project currently serves more than 4,000 prisoners and has reached more than 37,000 over the last 20 years. 


“Behind the Wall” was conceived and coordinated by Story House Ithaca. Prisoner Express and Story House Ithaca are both projects of the nonprofit Center for Transformative Action

The exhibition was presented in collaboration with the Finger Lakes Library System and supported by an action grant from Humanities NY.


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