Inside Out. Atlantic Cape Community College Art Gallery February 6 through March 10, 2018.
This exhibition includes my work along with four artists who are currently incarcerated at various prisons throughout the United States: Christopher Bujanda, Steve Fegan, Jesse Osmun and Jerome Washington. I am exhibiting monoprints, paintings, bronzes and two sculptures made from the letters of prisoners that I receive in the project Prisoner Express. , at Atlantic Cape Community College Art Gallery
Without the wall. Philadelphia City Hall, June 2014.
(After the exhibition at Rosenfeld Gallery – see below – this exhibition traveled to City Hall and was renamed “Without the wall.”
An exhibition of 50 artists – half who are incarcerated and half not. The artists were asked to create a painting/drawing/sculpture on a 6″ circular panel. The question for the audience was, “Can you view this work without asking the question, “Who did it?”
Review of this exhibition in Artblog
Art, alibi and an anonymous we: Rosenfeld Gallery, Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA March – February 2014
EVOLUTION OF THE EXHIBITION:
My original question in this show is: CAN we experience art without the story of the artist? My question is can instead of should.
This question evolved out of my experience in teaching art in several high security prisons. The first prisoner I met, surprisingly, was a man in a remote Ohio prison who received a MFA from Tyler School of Art. He is serving a life sentence.
Fred, the prisoner, and I have had many intense conversations about art and making art. I asked him once, “Do you think anyone, other than your family and friends, experiences your work without putting it into the context of “prisoner art?” He answered, “No, and that is why I never put my work into prisoner art shows.” It was out of our conversations that I developed this show. When I met Fred, we coincidentally were both working on 6” circle paintings.
In this show, I asked 55 artists, half of whom are incarcerated and half of whom are NOT incarcerated (many Pennsylvania Academy of FIne Arts alumni) to create a work of art in a 6” circle to be presented anonymously.
Of course, story creeps in.
In presenting this work, I wanted the viewer to experience this anonymous art beyond viewing it on the wall. I wanted the work to invade the space of the viewer.
I decided to hang the paintings in row formation, thus, making the backs visible to the viewer. Not wanting to leave the backs blank, I, therefore, attached the art sent to me from prisoners all over the United States – I have contact with a network of 2300 prisoners (the network has grown to include 9000 prisoners in 2020) through the Center For Transformative Action, living in various US prisons to whom I write on an on-going basis. The relationship between the circle and the back of the frame is random.
On the framed backs of the circles, I used additional prisoner art work, some of my own artwork, and letters I received from prisoners. For an example, on the back of one frame is the varnished letter of Gabriel, a prisoner living in solitary confinement and to whom I sent a copy of Rilke’s poem, This is the Creature:
“This is the creature that had never been…….
Not there because they loved it, it behaved
as though it were. They always left some space.
And in that clear unpeople space they saved
it lightly reared it head, with scarce a trace
of not being there. They fed it, not with corn,
but only with the possibility of being……”
Gabriel writes to me:
“I want you to show me the “possibility of being”. I could do it myself, but you have more experience. That is all.”
The story creeps in.
I don’t know if Fred’s art will ever be seen as “art” or “prisoner art.”