Last week the MASD Merit Scholarship Winners for MASD were announced. Images of Cindy Shi’s project shown here focuses on the levels and complexity of systems for A Prison Industrial Complex. Here is her personal statement and inspiration behind it.
“This project was a semester-long progress that reflects the learning and growth completed in Systems Thinking with Curt McNamara. It is truly one of those exposures where I can never look at the world the same again. Systems are everywhere and knowing how to have a nonlinear perspective on analyzing them has become one of the most valuable tools for me. I saw myself grow the most in this course out of my entire academic career, and I created some of my best quality work yet.
I focused my semester’s work on the Prison Industrial Complex: a monster of an enterprise that is composed of multiple sub-systems and exists within much larger super-systems. I recognize many folks are still grappling with the rising and overdue awareness of police violence, lasting effects of the War on Drugs, and the organized abandonment of marginalized communities. It felt powerful to visually display all the inputs that surround the PIC -making a lot of abstract concepts tangible and traceable. When we say “systemic racism”, it truly is systemic – baked into the system, reinforced at every turn. Creating this piece allowed me to present the evidence of systemic racism’s pervasiveness on our communal well-being.
Most importantly, if this system was designed, this project lent me a framework to redesign the potential for regeneration. Like Ruth Wilson Gilmore and many other strong leaders in this movement have declared, “abolition has to be green”. Systems thinking resonates deeply with the social and environmental justice issues I want to tackle in my career. In having the skills to thoroughly map the inputs and outputs of a complex adaptive system, I am able to define important factors of scope, influences, and leverage points necessary for implementing long-term change.”