GOING UPSTATE | Rochester, New York

Hartnett Gallery at the University of Rochester

March 15-25, 2023

Gallery Guide, March 2023

Hartnett Gallery

GOING UPSTATE Hartnett Gallery | Gallery Guide, March 2023

“Attica…By Choice” | ATTICA, New York

Image courtesy of Janaelle Huxlin via Cameron McCabe (2023)

The conductor told me the railroad had started in 1917 and that in 1958 there had been a huge washout of the tracks which stopped most of the train trips up to Attica. In fact, after the major washout (one of several), the prison became the only client left in Attica and the only reason trains ever went to the end of the line. Their trains had been used to transport coal for the prison. I asked if they ever had trains go to Attica now. He said no, the last stop today is a place called Curriers Station, though you can still see the old tracks in Attica near the furniture station. He told me that people often ask if they’ll ever start taking the trains all the way to Attica again, but that it was incredibly unlikely. – UR students Emerson Finkle, Skylar Cerbone, Winston Scott, Alexandra Fischgrund fieldnotes, Attica-Arcade train line (2018)

Erie Canalway Historical Marker | FAYETTEVILLE, New York

Courtesy of Joshua Dubler (2023)

“The way that I see it is, if you look at the school as an institution, then the prison is coming into the school. Because if you look at certain teachers that are old-school, that have their kids walk in a line and your hands have to be behind your back and, you know, stand against the wall to go to the bathroom and stuff like that, what I see is what I see when I go see my husband [in prison]. And so that is an institutionalized kind of behavior. So, do we want to institutionalize our students? No. Because that’s what we’re doing is we’re getting them to practice and getting them used to being in an institution so that when they go somewhere else, they already know the drill, right? The new teachers that are coming on board and the new administrators and the new way of thinking is, you know, we are nurturing, we are restorative instead of being punitive.” – Wanda Labrador, as told to Amina N’Gambwa and Natalie Ziegler (2019)

Corcraft Hand Sanitizer | ROCHESTER, New York

Courtesy of Stacey Lawkowski Darbey, Stacey Davis  Sadler, Julie Meyer Rao (2023)

“We’re hearing from local governments that acquiring hand sanitizer has been a real problem. NYS will immediately begin producing hand sanitizer ourselves—100,000 gallons per week. We’ll provide it to government agencies, schools, the MTA, prisons, & others.” – Governor Andrew Cuomo on Twitter (2020)

NY State License Plates | ABURN, New York

Courtesy of Rochester residents Aaron Tabon and Autumn Haag (2023)

“You know that all the license plates in New York state are made in Auburn, right?” – Amanda, UR student and Auburn resident (2018)

Prison City Beer Can | AUBURN, New York

Courtesy of unnamed Prison City server and Jaenelle Huxlin (2023)

Prison City Pub & Brewery Menu | AUBURN, New York

Courtesy of unnamed Prison City server and Jaenelle Huxlin (2023)

Before we leave, I ask our waiter if he thinks that the presence of the prison has an impact on the community itself. He again says no very quickly. It seems like a question he is a bit uncomfortable with. He describes the prison as being “background noise,” “not one of the first three things I think about when I think about Auburn,” “people just go about their days,” as a “regular inhabitant of Auburn for 24 years” I don’t think of it. He does say that if it is a part of your regular day (you drive past it daily) you might see families going in/out of there so it may have a different impact. We can see the prison from where we sit. It is now illuminated. – UR student Amina N’Gambwa fieldnotes, Prison City brewery, Auburn (2018)

Wasco Historical Marker on Prison Facade | AUBURN, New York

Image courtesy of Janaelle Huxlin (2023)

They told us there was a land claim in 1788-1789 that allowed NYS to acquire this area from the Onondaga tribe. The prison sits on Native land. Currently, the Cayuga Nation has its base in Union Springs. Lynn mentions that there is a small casino there that she and other people use on occasion. The town has a lot of commemorative pieces dedicated to Chief Logan. He was originally born to the Cayuga tribe but moved and did most of his more notable work in the Midwest. He died near Lake Erie and is buried in the Fort Hill Cemetery in Auburn, the inscription reads “who is going to mourn for Logan?” – UR students Amina N’Gambwa and Jasmin Edjang fieldnotes, Auburn (2018)

Map of Auburn at the Equal Rights Heritage Center (sans prison) | AUBURN, New York

Image courtesy of Jaenelle Huxlin (2023)

“We all knew the prison was there, but it was not until I got older that I really thought about it. Like when I got a car. Because there’s a great restaurant, Balloons—it has some of the best food in Auburn, and it’s over there by the prison—you sit inside and you are literally facing the wall. But in general we don’t talk about it unless you have family working there. Or when visitors come. They ask questions about it.” – Alaina, Auburn resident, to Kristin Doughty (2018)

New Lipton MacNoodle | ALBION, New York

Courtesy of Albion town historian Ian Mowatt (2023)

In the more than three decades she has lived in Albion, Dee said the biggest change she noticed was the major decrease in the number of stores in Albion. She said downtown used to be full of small, locally-owned stores, but then brand name mass retailers like Lowes and Walmart came in and drove them out of business. She mentioned another big change that occurred right around the time she moved here was the exodus of factory jobs from the town in the 1980’s. She said the closing of the Lipton plant, in particular, hurt a lot of people because that was where so many people got jobs right out of high school without needing any additional training. Nowadays, she said many people who were born and raised in Albion still stay, but they have to commute to Buffalo, Batavia or Rochester for work. – UR students Allison Morningstar and Sean Fang fieldnotes, Albion (2018)

Brick | ATTICA, New York

Courtesy of Attica Historical Society via Haven Worley, Alisa Chen, and Cameron McCabe (2023)

Attica had been a rail junction, he told us. 60 trains a day would visit at its peak. What’d they load up on? In his estimation, mostly building materi-als—bricks from the brickyard, lumber from the lumberyard, and machinery from Westinghouse, which opened a foundry there. Around that time is when they put the prison in on account, he said, of the rail—there used to apparently be a direct connection, with food and building materials and prisoners being brought in by train. – UR student Cameron McCabe fieldnotes, Attica (2023)

Orchard Street | AUBURN, New York

Image courtesy of Mattie Neretin (2023)

As I was walking down Genesee St with Morgan, we walked past some guy smoking a cigar outside of some store. He looked at me and gave me a head nod and I told him What’s up. After walking a little past him, something inclined me to go back and talk to him. I told Morgan I will catch up with her and decided to walk back. When I started walking back he looked up at me and I said, “Yo do you know where O-Block is?” He chuckled and said, “You seen me and O-Block?” “Well, I’m not from here. I’m from Brooklyn and just wanted to know where it’s at.” After giving me some brief directions he states, “I’m actually about to go back to Orchard St. myself.” I asked, “Actually I want to know why it’s called O-block and why people talk so bad about it?” “Well my mother has lived on Orchard for over 57 years and I still live in the same house and I’m 55 years old. We were one of the first African American families that lived on Orchard, it was an all Italian neighborhood.” – UR student Jerrell Grey with Morgan Barter, fieldnotes, Auburn (2018)

Attachment 5: Examples of Weapons Confiscated by DPS | ROCHESTER, New York

Security Commission Report, University of Rochester (2016)

“In 8th grade health, prison guards came into the school, and told us not to break the law, because of how terrible the prisons are, how dangerous it is. They brought in a big board of improvised weapons to show us how awful it is on the inside. Of course that’s all designed to make us scared.” – Joe Orman, Auburn resident, to Kristin Doughty (2017)

Crystals from Ascension Outpost | ATTICA, New York

Courtesy of Jaenelle Huxlin and Ivette Sierra (2023)

“Its energy in this town is a serious problem.” He went on to explain that in addition to of course having a huge impact as the most powerful employer and economic machine in the town, he could relate to the energies—the metaphysical ones—on a deep level. “It’s like a dark cloud over there, and when people go into work they feel that and when they come out and go home, it follows them. It’s a big, dark, negative energy.” He told us that whether or not people realized it, they were being exposed to energies that impacted their daily lives. “Correctional officers engage with that negativity and use it on their families. So then their daughters and wives are treated like they’re imprisoned too.” – UR students Haven Worley and Cameron McCabe, fieldnotes, Attica (2023)

Santo Toribio Romo: Patrono de los Inmigrantes and Virgen del Migrante Candles | BATAVIA, New York

Courtesy of Ivette Sierra (2023)

“Since 2011, I’ve been pastor of a community of migrant farm workers. And I won’t say exactly where, in this general vicinity of West Rochester. It is actually from this group that the idea of Los Samaritanos came out. One of the families in our community had an encounter with a man who had been left at the Citgo Station [in Batavia after being released from the I.C.E. facility], and he didn’t speak any English. He certainly had no idea of where he was, right? In Somewhere, USA, right? And he has to pick up money from Western Union that his brother is sending him so that he can get on a Greyhound bus. So she encountered him at the Walmart, where somebody asked if she could help with translation, cause they were trying to explain to him Western Union is not at Walmart. There is a Western Union at Tops, which if you’re on foot and you don’t know the area, you know, it’s a nightmare. So… she took them over to Tops. And there, they discovered that you cannot pick up money at Western Union unless you have identification, while all of his identification had been confiscated and kept by the detention center. So what they worked out was they called the brother and had him send the money to her, and then she gave it to him. And several days later, he called and said he arrived safely and all was well. But that raised the question for all of us, how often is this happening? You know. And what kind of help do people need?” – Batavia reverend to UR students Iris Zhou and Maria Favella (2020)

Los Compadres Restaurant | BATAVIA, New York

Image courtesy of Ivette Sierra (2023)

She confirmed that a lot of police officers come and eat at the restaurant and I asked if officers from the ICE detention center come as well and she confirmed that they do. I asked her if she thought if she found that weird, she asked why it would be, and I explained how the officers are interacting with our food but the moment they leave this restaurant they are now going to interact with people like us who are detained due to their immigration status. Once I framed it this way she did say that it initially made her uncomfortable but she has been used to it because the owners have a restaurant in Buffalo which is extremely close to the border to Canada and she mentioned that ICE would come in their work vans and come to eat all the time so she is very used to having interactions with ICE in this setting. – UR student Ivette Sierra fieldnotes, Batavia (2021)

Mount Morris, NY – We Remember – We Honor | MOUNT MORRIS, New York artist Shawn Dunwoody

Image courtesy of Jaenelle Huxlin (2023)

“There’s a small negative impact [to the Livingston correctional facility closing] because most of the workers didn’t live immediately local but would still spend money driving through the town. Groveland is the bigger facility and since there’s still a state presence there, the impact was minimalized. Also, most of the inmate population is from NYC, and the town runs free buses on weekends so families can visit. When they come up and see it costs a lot less to live here and it doesn’t take 7+ hours to see their family, they decide to stay. Mt. Morris has the social services office for the county, so it’s within a walking distance to get services when the families come in. When the inmates are released, they can stay in the area. We’re having to deal with cultures that we’re not used to dealing with, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just a thing.” – Mt. Morris pastor and retired correctional officer to UR students Hannah O’Connor and Samiksha Vitalraj (2019)

09.08.2020 Jefferson and McCree | ROCHESTER, New York

Image courtesy of Kristin Doughty (2020)

09.07.2020 City Hall | ROCHESTER, New York

Image courtesy of Kristin Doughty (2020)

09.07.2020 Public Safety Building | ROCHESTER, New York

Image courtesy of Kristin Doughty (2020)

“Rate of Sworn Officers to Town/Village Population” | ROCHESTER, New York

Center for Public Safety Initiatives, Rochester Institute of Technology (2018)

“I marched with a bunch of kids. They wore swim goggles and bike helmets. They carried Rubbermaid lids as shields. It was like they were going off to war. And they were met with an army. They marched for their ideals. They wanted to be heard. The mayor & RPD spectacularly failed.” – Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart tweet (2020)


Goggles | ROCHESTER, New York

Courtesy of Morgan Farrow and Lia Nelson (2020)

Gas Mask | ROCHESTER, New York

Courtesy of Morgan Farrow and Lia Nelson (2020)

Sign | ROCHESTER, New York

Courtesy of Apollo Figueira via Morgan Farrow (2020)

Medic Bag | ROCHESTER, New York

Courtesy of Amanda Liang (2020)

I-90 Exit at NY-98S | BATAVIA, New York

Image courtesy of Ivette Sierra (2023)

I sat down at a Willy Wonka slot machine next to an older lady. I was vocally confused about how to use the slot machine and confessed that it was my first time. She showed me how to use it and I asked her how often she comes to play at the casino and if she was from Batavia. She said she had lived here her whole life and so had her parents. […] When I brought up the ICE facility, she immediately told me that her son was a CO, but in Attica, not Batavia. I asked her how the job was for him and why she thought he ended up with it. She said that it’s a difficult job but the benefits are so good and she thinks he took the job for his family’s sake. She said that he lives in Attica now, instead of commuting from Batavia. She said that he had a better position, being a guard at the gate rather than working directly inside the prison most of the time. She didn’t have much to say about his experience as a guard, but more about her worries as a mother.   – UR student Nai’a Keith-Handschuh fieldnotes, Batavia (2023)

And then, by some amazing stroke of luck, John the county legislator walked in. John is from Batavia and currently resides there serving as a Republican politician. He had been a CO for 25 years, mostly at Albion. He was opposed to the new jail project, because of the economic strain it was putting on the town. The folks in Albany had basically ordered that the new facility be built, because updated regulations deemed the current facility unfit (not enough beds, not enough space); it’s been in operation since 1902. We asked about the jobs that the project would create and he said, “I’m not really an advocate for that kind of job creation.” – UR students Jessica Charest, Sebastian Lauer, Guy Emrich fieldnotes, Batavia (2023)

Sign | RAY BROOK, New York

Image courtesy of Natalie Mankoff (2023)

Martha knew that Joe worked in the prison, and she always assumed that he was a correctional officer, but when she spoke with him, she learned that he actually called himself a “Rec Specialist.” “He told me, ‘Martha you could walk into any bar and be surrounded by corrections officers (COs). But not a single one will tell you that he’s a CO,’” Martha explained. “A lot of corrections officers also do contracting work on the side, so they will tell you that they’re a carpenter or an electrician. But they won’t tell you that they’re COs.” – UR student Anna Givens, fieldnotes, Ray Brook (2022)


Mug | ATTICA, New York

Courtesy of Stephen Szemplenski via Alisa Chen and Cameron McCabe (2023)

The owner of Positiv Cafe exclaimed how her father spent 32 years working for the prison in Attica and she proceeded to head to the kitchen area to go get him. After the Academy, he spent a year at the Wyoming facility and then got transferred to the Attica Correctional Facility where he spent 32 years of his career. He explained his sentiments towards the incarcerated individuals he interacted with when he was there; he exclaimed that “they’re there for a reason.” He mentioned that his father was a hostage to the riot and was in a coma for six months. Because of the inmates, he “has a swimming pool to relax in.” When referring to the incarcerated individuals, he referred to them as “job security” for him as “they put a roof over my family’s head.” – UR student Ivette Sierra fieldnotes, Attica (2023)

Groveland C.F. 2014 | SONYEA, New York artist unidentified incarcerated person

Courtesy of Groveland Correctional Facility Superintendent Shawn Cronin and Kristin Doughty (2019)

The shop owner jumped right into conversation about the town, with a clear sense of pride: We had a Shaker colony outside of town. You’re never born a Shaker, because the men and women never associate with each other, never. Mr. Letchworth went to Europe to find out the treatment for epilepsy. Epilepsy is still a hard thing to control, so what did they know in 1910? Not a great deal. But he purchased the Shaker colony and turned it into an epileptic hospital for the state of New York, which served thousands and thousands of patients through the years and it was a wonderful place. They had their own stores, their own movie theater, their own bowling alley, their own Protestant, Catholic, and Jewish churches… It was a community that people loved to be in, and Dr. Mario Cuomo destroyed it all. He put those people out, and turned it into a state prison, which was disastrous for everyone in the area, just a total disaster. – UR student Dekovas Finley fieldnotes, Mt. Morris (2021)

DOCCS Recruitment Flyer | ATTICA, New York

Courtesy of Haven Worley, Alisa Chen, and Cameron McCabe (2023)

“My uncle works in the moderate security area at Attica. The hours and conditions of work for COs is an abomination, they are really genuinely not favorable. The prison is the only employment option for these men and women. A parallel development along with the inflation of the prison industrial system is the collapse of community farming. Thousands of family farms have been closed down by agribusinesses, high throughput technologies. Farms formed the bases of the economies, closing down surplus of labor being taken up by the prison.” – Chris, Attica resident, to Kristin Doughty (2019)

Elmira Enforcers Jersey | ELMIRA, New York

Courtesy of Jesse Johnston and Joshua Dubler (2023)

“At one point we were a really thriving city with lots of businesses, but then the flood of 1972 came in and destroyed them and the businesses never recovered—Elmira never re-covered. It’s been 50 years and we still haven’t recovered. So that’s really where the rapid decline of Elmira was, otherwise it’d still be a thriving city. The prison replaced the workforce. There are so many COs in our community. Ironically enough, before I was a pastor I was a bartender and I worked at the local legion, and the COs would have these massive parties for retirement and whatnot, and there were so many of them it really showed how many COs there were in our area. So it’s an interesting dynamic. It [the prison] provides so many jobs, and they are decent, good paying jobs. You don’t even need a college degree to get it.” – Methodist pastor to UR student Catherine Ramsey, Elmira (2020)

Main Street | WATERTOWN, New York

Image courtesy of Kristin Doughty (2019)

It definitely did not feel like they all had relations with friends or family in the prison system. More likely than not every customer had some relation with Fort Drum instead. This brings me to think that Fort Drum replaced any economic need that the Watertown prison ever had, and I would expect the other correctional facility to potentially close as well. – UR student Shane Bombace fieldnotes, Watertown (2023)

“crime-prevention/ tips/ #violence” | ROCHESTER, New York

UR Department of Public Safety website via @Rochester, February 16, 2023

“Since we’re talking about abolition of the forms of punishment with which we are most familiar, we might also talk about abolition of the forms of security that rely on violence. So that is to say the abolition of policing as we know it. And that is against the backdrop of imagining a campus, a city, a state, a country, a world that no longer needs to rely on these forms of violence that only serve to reproduce violence.” – Angela Davis, University of Rochester (2019)

One Day | ATTICA, New York

Courtesy of Jose DiLenola, formerly incarcerated 26 years, Clemency Campaign Director, RAPP Campaign

I released this stone out of Attica Prison from a D-block area where the 1971 massacre took place. When I first saw it I wondered how long it had been there. Perhaps since the prison was built…92 years ago. I imagined all the (in)humanity it had witnessed passing by, all the suffering and abuse that took place here. I freed it because I want to believe that one day (as I wrote on the stone) Attica will cease to exist. I want to hope that we as a society will live in a world where such places are no longer tolerated, and most certainly not needed. – Jose DiLenola, Rochester, New York


Human Caging in Western New York | Abhiyudh Rajput (2023)

NY State Prisons Map | Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (2010)

NY State Prisons Map | Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (2022)

“Upstate Counties Send the Most People to Prison Per Capita” | Prison Policy Initiative (2022)

Racial Dot Maps | Cooper Center Demographics Research Group, University of Virginia (2010)

The Expansive Reach of Corcraft | Lia Nelson (2020)

DOCCS Map with Transportation Links Overlay | Henry Litsky (2021)

We are eager for the conversations that we hope this exhibition can occasion and, with an eye toward future iterations of the show, we are eager for your feedback. To give it to us, please leave us comments below. Given the present assemblage, we are especially eager for stories and insights, and potentially objects and images, from Rochester residents and from those whose primary experience of an area prison town came as an incarcerated people.

Join the ConversationLeave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *