Sherrill Roland

2018–19 Post-MFA Fellow in the Documentary Arts


The Post-MFA Fellowship in the Documentary Arts is part of CDS's Documentary Diversity Project.

Roland is a North Carolina native—born in Asheville and currently living in Raleigh—who received a BFA in design and MFA in studio art from the University of North Carolina–Greensboro. As he describes his work, Roland “creates art that challenges ideas around controversial social and political constructs, and generates a safe space to process, question, and share.” He is the founder of the acclaimed Jumpsuit Project, intended to raise awareness around issues related to mass incarceration. The work grew out of personal history, from the ten months he spent in state prison on a wrongful conviction just as he had started his last year of grad school in 2013. Based on new evidence, Roland was exonerated of all charges in 2015. Back in school, he wanted to provoke conversation around issues related to incarceration, including prejudice toward those incarcerated—for his MFA thesis project, Roland wore an orange jumpsuit every day and documented his interactions until his graduation in spring 2017. He has shared the project around the country via speaking engagements at the University of Michigan Law School, Princeton University, and other educational institutions, and as a performance piece, most recently at LACE: Los Angeles, the Studio Museum of Harlem, and ARTSpace Raleigh.

A portrait of Sherrill Roland