Pens to Pictures
Presented in conjunction with Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, Pens to Pictures co-presents an evening of screenings and conversation. Pens to Pictures is a filmmaking collaborative that teaches and empowers incarcerated women to make their own short films, from script to screen. During its inaugural year in 2016, five films were made in a partnership between women in Dayton Correctional Institution (DCI) and communities of artists based in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, and Pennsylvania. This program will include screenings of BANG! (2016) by Kamisha Thomas, Love or Loyalty (2016) by Tyra Patterson, Transparent (2016) by Jamie Ochs, The Devastating Game (2016) by Beverly Fears, and For They Know Not (2016) by Aimee Wissman. A talkback moderated by curator, writer, and editor, Dessane Lopez Cassell concludes the program.
Beverly Fears is a native of Cincinnati, Ohio with a passion for telling stories in front of and behind the camera. She participated in the inaugural year of Pens to Pictures with a short film that she wrote and directed, The Devastating Game (2016), which tells the story of a young woman who overcomes incest and sexual abuse. Through her experience in the Pens to Pictures program, Beverly has been inspired to pursue her lifetime desire to become an actor. She is eager to participate in future Pens to Pictures courses, and dedicated to educating people about what an inmate looks like: a reflection in the mirror. Beverly has learned that, “regardless of the hell one can go through, just make sure you look like heaven afterwards.”
Jamie Ochs is a survivor of adversities. She has taken what could have been a negative experience and turned it into positive action and activism. A runaway at 12 years old, she married at 16, and became a mother of three at 20 years old. After serving a ten-year sentence, she is now finishing an Associate’s degree of technical study and working towards her Bachelor’s degree in computer science. Jamie plans to pursue her Master’s degree in biomedical engineering at Wright State University. The support she received and networks she created through Pens to Pictures has been profound and she strives to be a powerful, positive influence on women who share similar experiences.
Tyra Patterson was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. On December 25, 2017, she walked out of prison after serving 23 years for crimes she did not commit. Today, Tyra travels all over the country speaking at law schools, colleges, prisons, conferences, and high schools, leveraging her story to educate people on injustice, mass incarceration, and wrongful convictions. She currently lives in Cincinnati and works at the Ohio Justice & Policy Center (OJPC), where she leads their community outreach efforts. Tyra also maintains paralegal and fundraising duties at OJPC. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Just Media and a proud Art for Justice Fund grantee, where she directs her energy towards systematic change. Her story has been covered by many publications including Rolling Stone, Essence, the Guardian and many others. Tyra is heavily involved in the arts community of Cincinnati, specifically advocating for the hiring of artists directly impacted by incarceration and creating a pathway for entrepreneurship. She also uses art to educate people on the issues of social, racial, gender, and economic justice.
Kamisha Thomas is a Columbus, Ohio native who has been telling stories since grade school. Always an avid pupil of English, literature, and the arts, her educational journey blossomed into conquests of knowledge in the areas of communication, media production, and, ironically, criminal justice. She also achieved unprecedented success while incarcerated in a state correctional facility where she wrote and directed her first short film, BANG! (2016), as a part of the Pens to Pictures project. While her primary medium is creative writing, she utilizes her skills in painting, sketching, pouring resin, making jewelry, and tessellating as a form of therapy for everyday mental health and to clear up writer's block. Currently, Kamisha is working to complete a series of three short films called Silence is Consent, which explore the injustices of the justice system and the impact incarceration has on families.
Aimee Wissman is a visual artist, filmmaker, activist, culture changer, and the founder of the Returning Artists Guild, a network of currently and formerly incarcerated artists. Aimee works as an arts administrator by day and a student by night, and is also a curator for local justice organizations along with being a mother. Her work deals with the impact and implications of incarceration, addiction, and societal infrastructure through material exploration and community action. Aimee WIssman’s work is currently on view in Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration.
Dessane Lopez Cassell is a curator, writer, and editor based in New York. Her film curation and writing focus on artist’s moving image, documentary, and experimental film, with an emphasis on race, gender, and voices from the African and Caribbean diasporas. Currently, Cassell sits on the experimental film committee for BlackStar Film Festival and serves as Editor of Reviews at Hyperallergic.