Mass incarceration, the war on drugs, mental illness, and racism within police departments: all these issues are alive and well in America. In Illinois - the Cook County Jail is the largest single jail site in the US - and houses apx. 9,000 people. Meanwhile, unlike many jails located in small towns and rural areas - this one is directly surrounded by a community of tens of thousands.
A unique art collective that's concerned with how the jail affects those around it - and in it - has sprung up. It's called 96 Acres - the amount of space the jail complex takes up.
Maria Gaspar is an artist, educator, and the artistic director of 96 Acres. She helps lead projects that are site-responsive and include a variety of media (including radio.) Gaspar says the group is interested in sparking dialogue and creating a counter-narrative about the jail; one that digs deeps and explores the way our country incarcerates its citizens and why. She joined WUIS for this interview: