Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 9-28-2017

Embargo Period


Event Date

September 28, 2017


MDOCS, Documentary, Storytelling, Event, Showcase, Mass Story Lab, States of Incarceration, Stories that Speak to us


Mass Story Lab with Piper Anderson September 28–30

September 28, 2017, 7 p.m., Davis Auditorium, Palamountain Hall

DISCUSSION: Stories That Speak to Us: Piper Anderson and Sylvia Ryerson

Join Piper Anderson, founder of the Mass Story Lab, and documentarian Sylvia Ryerson as they discuss the power of storytelling as an instrument of justice.

Piper Anderson is a writer, educator, and cultural worker who has spent more than 16 years leveraging the tools of art-making and community engagement to create social impact. Her work has taken her to over 30 U.S cities, Mexico, and Rwanda delivering creative responses to racial and gender injustice. Her commitment to ending mass incarceration began in 2001. Realizing the destructive impact of prisons and policing on her community, Anderson became Blackout Arts Collective’s Lyrics on Lockdown national tour coordinator and directed the cultural campaign that reached more than 25 U.S communities creatively catalyzing a dialog about the effects of the prison system on communities of color. In spring 2016, Anderson was awarded a TED Residency to develop an innovative art-and-design project called Mass Story Lab. One of her proudest moments was being a part of the founding of NYU’s prison education program, which offers an associate degree to men at Wallkill correctional facility. She continues to serve on the faculty and steering committee for that program. Anderson attended The New School, where she was a Riggio Writing Democracy Fellow and received her master's in applied theater from CUNY’s School of Professional Studies. Click here to see a video of the Lab at work.

Sylvia Ryerson is a radio producer, sound artist, and musician. For nearly a decade her work has probed the overlapping crises of mass incarceration, rural poverty, and environmental destruction. Her work has been featured on Here and Now, the Takeaway, the Marshall Project,, the Third Coast Festival, and the BBC. After graduating from Wesleyan University, Ryerson moved to Eastern Kentucky to work at Appalshop, the renowned documentary arts center and home of WMMT-FM community radio. She served as a reporter and director of public affairs at WMMT, and led the production of Calls from Home, a nationally recognized radio program sending messages from family members to their loved ones incarcerated in rural Appalachia. In 2015, Ryerson began Restorative Radio, a collaboratively produced radio series that broadcasts audio postcards from family members to their loved ones in prison. The project aims to transcend prison walls and change public perceptions of who is behind them. Find out more about the Restorative Radio project here and here.