Thursday, September 16, 2010

art exhibits in ESP

on sunday, i experienced one of the coolest atmospheres for art exhibits.  the eastern state penitentiary in philadelphia, pa holds exhibits for a whole bunch of different artists that you come across throughout your tour of the prison.  it is a brilliant idea and whoever came up with this idea is a genius. seeing art installations in prison cells (and relating to the prison) was incredible. here are a few:

down this cell block below, we found susan hagen's installation, "recollection tableaux"
on both sides of the block, there were several wood sculptures displayed inside the tiny cells. hagan planned these sculptures "by studying historic photographs, written descriptions and oral histories by the people who remember this institution"  in hopes to offer "a glimpse of the emotional experiences and mundane routines of daily life within the walls of this prison - and to find a shared humanity with the men and women who resided here."  the fact that she lived outside the penitentiary for about 20 years made me appreciate that she had the opportunity to show her work within these walls.

 next was judith taylor's installation "my glass house"
this was personally my favorite, i'm a huge fan of photograms. i love the idea of them and i love their look, they have so much potential to make something really creative. i regret not focusing on photograms more when i had the chance.  i should have taken advantage when i had access to a darkroom. but judith taylor's in-progress greenhouse takes full advantage! "the photographs in these windows are specimens of the natural habitat (plant life, insects, birds) found within the walls of the eastern state penitentiary."  i really want to see it with the majority of the windows as photograms.

 the last installation i photographed was mary dewitt's "pardon me"
this one was pretty cool. i didn't care for the paintings themselves, but their set up was pretty fantastic looking. you can see below, these huge reverse glass paintings were (like susan hagen's sculptures) set up inside the prison cells. "pennsylvania is one of the few states in which all life sentences are issued without chance for parole. it is also one of the few states still relying on a pardon by the governor as the sole means of release for these inmates. these pardons have become rare in recent decades."  ms dewitt says, 'this has led to a log jam of elderly people who would have been released decades ago in most states. since governor rendell is finishing his final term as governor, this is the moment when he is most likely to grant a pardon."  "each painting in this series is accompanied by a recording of the woman's voice. information about each woman, and the pardon process, is available on the artist's website:"

i don't have anything smart or artsy to say about these, i just wanted to share because it was a very unique experience for viewing artwork

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