Sylvia Ryerson is a multimedia artist, organizer and PhD student in American Studies at Yale University. For over a decade her work, rooted at the intersection of scholarship, activism and art, has probed the overlapping crises of mass incarceration, rural poverty, and environmental destruction. From 2010-2015, Ryerson worked at the renowned documentary arts center Appalshop, where she served as a reporter, producer, WMMT-FM Director of Public Affairs, and co-hosted and directed the nationally recognized Hip Hop from the Hill Top / Calls from Home
radio show. She also co-directed Making Connections News, a multimedia storytelling project documenting the movement for a Just Appalachian Transition, producing a series of short films and radio pieces to support regional organizing efforts. In 2015, Sylvia created and directed Restorative Radio: Audio Postcards from Home, a participatory audio documentary project co-created with families that have a loved one incarcerated. The pieces wove together immersive soundscapes of home that were broadcast over public airwaves to reach their loved ones inside.
In collaboration with community organizer and artist Luis Luna, she currently co-produces Melting the ICE / Derritiendo el Hielo, a bilingual radio show/podcast sharing testimonies and strategies against ICE detention and deportation. The show broadcasts locally on WPKN-FM 89.5 and WKCR-FM 89.9, reaching four of the largest ICE detention centers in New Jersey. Her academic and artistic work has appeared on NPR’s The Takeaway and Here and Now, the BBC, The Third Coast International Audio Festival, Kentucky Educational Television (KET), and in American Quarterly, Boston Review, The Marshall Project, and Critical Resistance’s The Abolitionist newspaper. She is a founding member of the Racial Capitalism and the Carceral State working group at Yale and is a member of the American Studies Association’s Critical Prison Studies Caucus.