Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter, also known by her hip-hop name, “Isis Tha Saviour,” is an award-winning Philadelphia-based artist who creates socially conscious music, films, and visual art through an autobiographical lens. Since her release from a Pennsylvania prison 10 years ago, Mary’s time spent on the inside continues to shape the direction of her art and practice. Her entertaining but poignant works offer a critical perspective on the particular challenges women of color face when they become immersed in the criminal justice system. Her work has been exhibited at venues including MoMA PS1, the African American Museum of Philadelphia, Eastern State Penitentiary, Ben & Jerry’s Factory in Waterbury, Vermont and HBO’s The OG Experience at Studio 525 in Chelsea. Mary is also a 2017 Soze Right of Return Fellow, 2018 and 2019 Mural Arts Philadelphia Reimagining Reentry Fellow and a 2019 Leeway Foundation Transformation awardee.
Interests at the intersection of higher education and the criminal legal system?
“Since 1981, the population of women and girls entering US prisons and jails have increased sevenfold. Unfortunately, at age 25, l learned the impacts and intimacies of this statistic firsthand. As a woman who has experienced the trauma of incarceration while pregnant, I am extremely passionate about creating pathways to higher ed for women who are expecting a child and for those who are already mothers and or caregivers within their respective families. When women and caregivers are removed from communities, our children inevitably suffer. That void can lead to feelings of confusion, anger and abandonment in our lives and even increase the likelihood of incarceration for their own children by 12%.”
Expectations or goals for the Fellowship? “My expectations for this fellowship are to utilize my experience, education, talents and resources to co-author policy/legislation while informing strategic campaigns that help raise awareness, garner public support and move the people to action. I’m also interested in creating supportive programs that help make transitioning from the carceral state into higher ed a lot easier. As someone who struggled with funding, housing insecurity, and adequate employment during my pursuit of a degree, I am very sensitive to the uphill battle many may face on their journey in higher ed.”