In Focus: Exhibit Explores How We Are All Criminals
“We Are All Criminals” is not only a bold statement, but it’s also the name of the latest exhibit at the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids. It’s based on an organization founded by Emily Baxter that challenges society’s perception of criminal records.
“Seventy-five percent of the population that doesn’t have a criminal record and asking those of us who may have committed an offense, but not been caught to reflect on that and think about how our lives might have been different, had we been caught, had we been charged,” said MacRostie Art Center Executive Director Katie Marshall.
“Thief” is just one of the many labels criminals may have to live with for the rest of their lives. It also sparks a conversation about second chances when that person is seeking employment or housing.
“Looking at people as a whole individual and not just one part of their story and one moment in time that doesn’t define who they are,” said Marshall.
Anonymous individuals tell stories of crimes they got away with like criminal damage to property or burglary. The photographs were taken in the participant’s home, office or crime scene.
“Everyone makes a mistake, but not everyone has to be reminded of that mistake every day,” said Marshall.
Some of the art featured are submissions from individuals serving time at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud.
“Can be a means for them to express what they’ve been through or where they’re going,” said Itasca County Probation Director Jason Anderson. “To help them to cope and maybe to help somebody else to understand what they’ve been through or what they’re going through.”
Organizations such as Grace House and Itasca Community College also helped bring We Are All Criminals to the community. The exhibit is open until the end of the month.