Amy Elkins' "Charles Francis Rumbaugh, Execution #10, Age 28" shows the poignant last words of a Texas inmate. All images courtesy the artist and Yancey Gallery, NYC.
Amy Elkins' "Nineteen Years out of a Life Sentence (Sky)," is based upon a prisoner's glimpse of sky above a grated cell.
The ballpoint drawing "Hello" was made by an immigrant prisoner serving time in California since the age of 13.
Amy Elkins' "13/32 (Not the Man I Once Was)" pixilates a prisoner's image based upon his years spent to date on death row.
Amy Elkins' "Thirteen Years out of a Death Row Sentence (River)" evokes an inmate's memory of his baptism, recalling a Pompeiian wall fresco in its beauty and delicacy.
The artist's trove of letters from pen-pal prisoners, whom she closely bonded with.
An imagined library. Inmates in solitary are typically limited to 10 volumes.
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.