Up From the Table is a multidisciplinary exhibition created by youth artists and mentors of Creative Justice that explores the human cost of mass incarceration and the school-to-prison pipeline. This exhibition was hosted by Seattle University’s Hedreen Gallery in Fall 2019. Inspired by the exhibition, arts educator and organizer Meilani Mandery spent over a year researching the school-to-prison pipeline and Seattle University’s role in that pipeline. Through this research, Mandery created Up From the Table and Other Stories of Resistance on Campus, a document that provides a detailed memory of the Up From the Table exhibition and brief histories of recent student organizing at Seattle University. This document, which will be available in the Hedreen Gallery library when the gallery reopens, makes critical connections between Seattle University and the New Youth Jail, and hopes to serve as a resource for future generations of Seattle University student organizers.
In Revisiting Up from the Table: a Conversation with Anab Nur on the School-to-Prison Pipeline, Mandery organizes a conversation with educator, activist, and Seattle University graduate, Anab Nur, in which Nur asks the community to reflect on definitions of justice and care. This video project reflects a snapshot of the spirit and momentum of Mandery’s research and commitment to center the histories and brilliance from generations of BIPOC organizing.
Meilani Mandery 周秀明 is an Asian American creative and community organizer. She is currently working in arts education at the Wing Luke Museum while organizing in the Chinatown International District. She graduated from Seattle University ‘20 summa cum laude, with a double major in Art History and Arts Leadership. She was awarded by the university with the Sylvia Rivera Award for Queer Activism, the Mission Award for Justice, the Anthony Burh Award for Art and Art History, and the Campus Unity Award with Asians and Pacific Islanders for Equity and Critical Engagement (APIECE). While thankful for the recognition for her work, she wants to acknowledge the community organizers who came before and question what it means to receive awards from an institution that has caused harm to her own communities. As a curator, her goals are to work against the white supremacist culture of the art institutions and to promote QTPOC artists and cultural workers. Art exists outside of white walls. How can we use resources and platforms that already exist to help build new systems that holistically serve communities with limited access to traditional art institutions? She is interested in radical AsAm identity, self determination for BIPOC communities, and prison and police abolition. She loves watching cheesy rom-coms and coming-of-age movies while eating pizza with her best friend.