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Statesville Exhibit photo

An example of a cartoon at the Varsity Center for the Arts gallery from an exhibit talking about the correctional system in the United States. The exhibit is meant to lead to a performance at the Varsity on March 10 “Life After Statesville." 

CARBONDALE — A new exhibit at the Varsity Center for the Arts depicts contributing factors leading to incarceration, according to a volunteer with the Center for Empowerment and Justice in Carbondale.

The volunteer, Nathan Colombo, said the exhibit is meant to lead to a March 10 performance at the Varsity — “Life After Statesville.” The performance is a continuation of the play “A Day at Statesville,” which highlights conditions of incarcerated individuals inside a prison. The March 10 performance is meant to highlight struggles individuals have upon re-entering society after serving a prison term.

The exhibit in the Varsity gallery features art by Arkee Chaney, a man serving natural life in Statesville prison. Colombo said the founder of the center, Jim Chapman, was given permission to share his work. Colombo said the art on the wall show conditions that lead to incarceration outside of the crime itself. Such images include the school-to-prison pipeline and the prison system mirroring conditions of slavery when it was part of everyday American life, he said. 

As for the performance on March 10, there will be an introduction and then three acts. Colombo said each act will represent a different type of adversity. He said one is homelessness, one is employment in the workplace, and the last will be the actions that people take upon themselves to be able overcome the adversity they face upon incarceration.

“Our hope is that we get business owners and policy makers in the building. On all parts of political spectrum,” Colombo said. “It’s about aligning with the national conversation of how to we address quality of life for returning citizens as well as stemming recidivism.”

Tickets for the performance are $7 and they are available at The exhibit will run until Monday, March 12.

For more information about what the Center for Empowerment and Justice offers, contact them at 618-457-2777 or email them at


on twitter: @zd2000



Dustin Duncan is a reporter for The Southern Illinoisan covering Carbondale.

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