Sherrill Roland creates art that challenges ideas around controversial social and political constructs and generates a safe space to process, question, and share. In August 2012, when he was enrolled as an art student, Roland was issued a warrant in Washington, D.C., explaining that he had four felony counts against him pending indictment. After nine months, an indictment was never found and the felony charges were dropped to misdemeanors. In October 2013, he went to trial and lost, and 10 months later he was released from state prison. Almost a year and a half after being released, he was exonerated of all charges and granted his bill of innocence.
Prior to his own incarceration, he maintained a very general understanding about prisons and the justice system in the United States, founded heavily in the media’s own depiction of imprisonment. He was unaware of the growing numbers of individuals incarcerated in the United States (both those proven guilty and those wrongfully accused). He, too, was naïve about the deep-seated social and political issues surrounding the culture of the prison system. His wrongful conviction opened his eyes to the great impact incarceration has on those individuals behind bars as well as on their family members and friends. His ongoing performance project, called The Jumpsuit Project, provides a window into the lives that have been impacted by incarceration. Through sharing his own story, and creating a space for others to share, his art sheds light on the enormous darkness incarceration brings.
Roland received his MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.