Art Project Helps Death Row Inmates Express Their Feelings About The World [Pics]

Art Project Helps Death Row Inmates Express Their Feelings About The World [Pics]

Unit 2 (Part 1) features collaborations between prisoners and art students to help criminals experience society.

Leah Gonzalez
  • 18 september 2013

Featured at Coop Gallery in Nashville, Unit 2 (Part 1) is an exhibition of collaborations between local artists and eleven inmates on Tennessee’s Death Row.

The works of art included in the exhibition were all made during the summer when the artists visited the inmates at Unit 2 of the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Nashville. During the summer the artists and the inmates engaged in artistic collaborations and discussions for the show.

The resulting works of art were either “collaborative” or “surrogate projects.” The collaborative or “add-on” works were drawings that were handed back and forth during the artists’ visits and each time the person who has the drawing added something to it. Surrogate projects consisted of things that the inmates or insiders asked the artists or outsiders to do things or experience things that they could not on account of their imprisonment.


Some of the art included a family portrait that one inmate asked the artist to take of his family since he could not take the photo himself. Another was a photo of a star-filled sky, requested by an inmate who hasn’t seen the stars in the open sky for several years.

The collaborative art show was organized by Robin Paris and Tom Williams, professors at Watkins College of Art. Unit 2 (Part 1) runs through until September 28th and is the first in a series of exhibitions.

Coop Gallery

Images via Hyperallergic and Coop Gallery


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