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Arts / Museums

Portraits From Prison

Amy Elkins Glimpses Life Lived in an 8 x 10 Cell

BY Catherine D. Anspon // 05.12.15

Many of the complicated sociopolitical concerns and human rights issues about life in prison — specifically solitary confinement — are confronted by Houston Center for Photography‘s very topical installation, “Black is the Day, Black is the Night” and “Parting Words.” The dual series by L.A.-based Amy Elkins offers highly personal photographic collaborations with inmates serving sentences in solitary cells in prisons throughout the country.

The artist became pen pals over a five-year period with prisoners in the bleak situation of life on death row or internment without parole; the works on view offer nuanced dialogues/constructed images between the incarcerated and the photographer.

In an accompanying portfolio sparked by Texas’ executions, inmate portraits are paired with their final words.

Credit new HCP director Sarah Sudhoff for inviting Elkins to show this intensely prescient work here. Its many layers address the viewer and raise some very haunting questions.

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