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Photo exhibit in Downtown Campus Library documents prison visits in Appalachia

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Raymond Thompson's documentation of families traveling by van from urban Virginia to visit incarcerated relatives in West Virginia is on display at WVU Libraries Downtown Campus Library Atrium.
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The Divide, an exhibit of black and white photographs on display in the WVU Libraries’ Downtown Campus Library Atrium, documents a van trip for families from urban Virginia to visit their relatives incarcerated in Appalachia.

The installation consists of 10 printed photographs as well as an interactive tablet so visitors may see additional photos and learn more about the project created by Raymond Thompson, a multimedia producer for WVU Magazine. A participatory element allows visitors to comment about the impact of the exhibit and share their own experiences.

The images reveal both the significance and difficulty of these trips that strengthen social ties to family and community.

“I am delighted that the Law Library is sponsoring this installation to show students how mass incarceration impacts our whole community,” said Valena Beety, professor of Law and director of the West Virginia Innocence Project. “Law students in particular can learn about the individuals behind the legal cases, and how empathy can make us stronger lawyers and community members.”

The College of Law Library contributed to funding the installation. Reed College of Media, the Department of English, and the Department of Sociology and Anthropology partnered with WVU Libraries, as well, to bring this project to fruition and host a lecture and reception in the fall. The display will run through December 2017.

Thompson has had his work featured in WBEZ Chicago Public Radio, NBC News and The New York Times. He has won several awards for his work including the 2012 Alexia Foundation Grant Award of Excellence and the 2011 Carnegie-Knight Fellowship.

-WVU-

mm/08/07/17

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