CHAGRIN FALLS — Chagrin Arts will host a photography exhibit called “Freedom of Expression – Giving Voice to Victims of Wrongful Conviction” in partnership with Healing Justice, the Ohio Innocence Project and John Carroll University. The exhibit’s free opening will take place at 88 N. Main St. on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will run through Nov. 20.
The exhibit consists of photographs by Magali deVulpilliere. The photos display art made by crime victims, the exonerated and family members of both. Healing Justice is a national nonprofit that serves people who have experienced trauma and inequity in the justice system. Chagrin Arts Executive Director Karen Prasser said that this type of exhibit allows people who were harmed in the justice system to use their experience to transform the justice system.
“It’s really moving,” Ms. Prasser said of the exhibit. “It shows the healing power of visual arts.”
There are four Healing Justice projects, she said. The first one is called “The Masks We Wear,” showing that creating physical representations of masks that people wear to hide their emotions may be the first step in healing. Ms. Prasser said that this is timely with people wearing masks due to COVID-19. Another project is “If You Could Walk in My Shoes,” which invites the outside world to better understand the experiences of people who have suffered.
Rocks can be synonymous with burdens, so “Our Story Stones” allows the artist to tell their story through words and colors. “The Lost and Found Box” project allows the artist to show their grief and loss but also unexpected gifts, such as strength and friendships, according to Chagrin Arts.
This collaboration with Chagrin Arts was also chosen internationally to be featured in an hour-long live stream broadcast by the Innocence Network on Friday. Founder of Healing Justice and speaker Jennifer Thompson will speak on the exhibit and her book, “Picking Cotton.” The book is available at Fireside Book Shop, 29 N. Franklin St. in Chagrin Falls. The link to watch the broadcast is available on chagrinarts.org and it starts at 6 p.m. Ms. Prasser said that there will also be a book club on “Picking Cotton” on Oct. 20 at 7 p.m.
“Jennifer is a crime victim herself. Because of her life experience, she is the founder of Healing Justice,” Ms. Prasser said. “She is an advocate to get the word out about the impact of crime on survivors. Survivors are often the ones who get forgotten.”
Chagrin Arts has partnered with the Ohio Innocence Project for more than a year, she said. Ms. Prasser described the programming as “arts with a purpose.” She said that Chagrin Arts has a “vibrant and rich collaboration” with the other organizations.