Incorrigibles is a documentary art project born out of the stories and lives of incarcerated girls in the United States, from 1900 to present day. The project uses a diverse set of components to collect and share these stories, including a traveling exhibition, short films, storytelling sub-projects, free public events, workshops with girls, a website, and an artist book. Incorrigibles aims to reexamine and challenge the language and conceptions that have historically been used to label, define, and confine girls.
Beginning with records from the New York State Training School for Girls (1904-1975), the largest girls’ prison in the U.S., stories from young women confined there reflect the deep patterns–linguistic and penal–in youth justice and American society at large. Girls from around the state of New York were sent to this institution, including the jazz singer, Ella Fitzgerald. Visual strategies, paired with verbal storytelling, shed personal and profound light on the history of young women’s confinement from the perspective of those who have been directly affected. Ultimately, through this process, Incorrigibles hopes to serve as a mirror to witness American society’s changing perceptions of what it deems punishable and offensive when it comes to the lives and behavior of young women over the last 100 years.