Amy Elkins Parting Words Exhibit

By Jean F. Andrews

A Photography Exhibition by Amy Elkins at the Houston Center for Photography, May 8th to July 5, 2015

Hello!, 8×10 inches. Ballpoint pen drawing on paper, folded into a card- sent from a then 33 year old man who has been in prison since the age of 13. He has been primarily in solitary confinement since the age of 16.

Amy Elkins, photographer examines capital punishment and solitary confinement through her powerful, haunting and evocative exhibition. For many years, Ms. Elkins had a personal relationship with many inmates on death row through letter writing. She used their last recorded words in her visual collection of photography and drawings. The exhibition includes collages of letter envelopes from inmates, a photograph image of the sky constructed out of an inmate’s description in which he was allowed to see the clouds and sky through a metal grated skylight in the small exercise room he was permitted to use only one hour per day out of his 23 hours in solitary confinement, a Christmas card from death row, a drawing by one inmate of his cell, a drawing of a handmade jump rope made from torn and braided bed sheets, a photograph of a metal food tray and poetry and drawing made by inmates that she corresponded with.

Amy Elkins (Los Angeles, CA) Ronald O’Bryan, Execution #3, Age 39, From the series Parting Words, 8.5×9.85 inches, Laser print, Courtesy of Artist and Yancey Gallery (New York, NY)

This photography exhibition can be partially viewed on line http://www.hcponline.org/exhibits/exhibitions/view/44/amy-elkins-black-is-the-day-black-is-the-night-parting-words.

Return to Sender – “Deceased”, 8x10inches. Mail returned from Mississippi State Penitentiary

Ms. Elkins brilliantly captures the cruelty and inhumanity of solitary confinement and capital punishment in her art work of photography, drawings and words.  Ms. Elkins’ exhibition is both aesthetically pleasing and educational as it provides sidebars of statistical information on capital punishment in the U.S.

[Editor’s Note: The original title for this post was the title of the exhibit, which is “Black is the Day, Black is the Night & Parting Words.” I changed that title for brevity. Also, Dr. Andrews informs me that she is officially retired now, and will now be able to post more often. We look forward to more of her excellent work.
–BitcoDavid]

Jean F. Andrews is a Reading Specialist and Professor of Deaf Studies/Deaf Education at Lamar University.

2 thoughts on “Amy Elkins Parting Words Exhibit

  1. Thanks David.  did you post this on FB?  It’s very powerful and, strangely, beautiful.  Aviva From: deafinprison To: aviavi43@yahoo.com Sent: Saturday, June 13, 2015 1:17 PM Subject: [New post] Amy Elkins Parting Words Exhibit #yiv0504511969 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv0504511969 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv0504511969 a.yiv0504511969primaryactionlink:link, #yiv0504511969 a.yiv0504511969primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv0504511969 a.yiv0504511969primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv0504511969 a.yiv0504511969primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv0504511969 WordPress.com | bitcodavid posted: “By Jean F. AndrewsA Photography Exhibition by Amy Elkins at the Houston Center for Photography, May 8th to July 5, 2015Amy Elkins, photographer examines capital punishment and solitary confinement through her powerful, haunting and evocative exh” | |

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