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On View Installations

  • Jared Scott Owens: Sepulture

    NEW FOR 2017! The artist draws from his personal experience to create a symbolic burial of an individual struggling with incarceration. The prisoner’s Egyptian burial sarcophagus is covered with an American Flag, a reference to “how this man came to be buried,” according to Mr. Owens. The sarcophagus also incorporates the man’s belongings, the objects an incarcerated person might wish to bring from prison into the afterlife. 

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  • Erik Ruin and Gelsey Bell: Hakim’s Tale

    NEW FOR 2017! The artist project a paper-cut silhouette of formerly incarcerated activist Hakim Ali onto a cell wall. In the accompanying audio, Ali recounts his experience in solitary confinement. He describes the spiritual and psychological crisis, and later resilience, that is brought about. 

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  • Piotr Szyhalski and Richard Shelton: Unconquerable Soul

    NEW FOR 2017! The artists combine drone footage with poems written and recorded by people living in prison. The poems address the individual complexities, and shared universalities, of the prison experience. Translations of the poems can be downloaded here.

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  • Luba Drozd: Institute of Corrections

    This video installation utilizes source materials created for correctional employees that include conferences, training discussions, and simulated scenarios. The artist edits the footage to uncover the system behind incarceration and the dialogue that goes on internally within the field of corrections itself.

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  • Michelle Handelman: Beware the Lily Law

    The piece uses the 1969 Stonewall Riots as a starting point to address issues facing gay and transgender inmates. The riots began after a police raid on the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City. Police arrested men dressed as women and transgender patrons. Many of the patrons resisted the police raid, and the following day thousands of people marched in the streets, speaking out about unfair treatment under the law. It was the start of the modern gay rights movement.

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  • Tyler Held: Identity Control

    Reflecting on the idea that a man is “too easily reduced to an object” when institutionalized, artist Tyler Held uses a car, stripped inside a cell, as a metaphor for relinquished individuality.

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  • Alexa Hoyer: I Always Wanted to Go to Paris, France

    Most of what the average person knows about prison life comes from pop culture: literature, history, news and most importantly from television and film. When visiting historic sites such as the Eastern State Penitentiary, one easily recognizes the visual landscape so often depicted in popular movies, as well as imagining the personal and private narratives dramatically rendered on screen. The prison film genre tends to glorify, romanticize or even trivialize the harsh realities of prison life.

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  • Jesse Krimes: Apokaluptein16389067:II

    The piece reflects the artist’s personal experience while incarcerated in federal prison, where he created a 39-panel surreal landscape on bed sheets and mailed each piece home. His installation at Eastern State will modify this massive image to cover the interior walls of an abandoned cell.

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  • Jess Perlitz: Chorus

    The artist asked incarcerated men and women from throughout the United States, “If you could sing one song, and have that song heard, what would it be?” Her recordings are played inside a cell at Eastern State. In the resulting “choir,” triggered by the visitor’s arrival, these voices are layered, escalating, colliding, and eventually grow overwhelming.

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  • Ruth Scott Blackson: No Trace Without Resistance

    The artist applies new paint chips, coated in gold leaf, to the flaking walls of an existing cell. In 
the resulting “shimmering constellation,” sunlight on the installation may entice the visitor in the same way an inmate may have been forced to concentrate on the walls during solitary confinement. The prison’s neglect reveals something surprising and rare underneath.

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2017 American Aliance of Museums Excellence in Exhibitions Overall Winner