Death Row Diaries
March 14, 2009 6:18 AM   Subscribe

Watercolors of people on death row. Part I, Part II.
posted by sveskemus (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
and poorly-executed ones at that.

(i'm sorry).
posted by wreckingball at 6:50 AM on March 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Lipstick Brave New Opry Thespian - reads online about people living out Hell on Earth, dedicates life to service, humility and to live daily with the realization that somewhere, someone's problems are far, far worse than anything he will ever experience. Ever.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 6:59 AM on March 14, 2009

This is not a good way to start my day.
posted by ColdChef at 7:03 AM on March 14, 2009

Needs an "MMW" (Misplaced Modifiers Warning)
posted by applemeat at 7:12 AM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Michael Nawee Blair: Kidnapped, raped, and strangled a seven year old girl in a park, while on parole for raping an eleven year old.

Love the terse, vivid descriptions. Interesting juxtaposition to the recent Supermax post which inspired so much "but won't somebody think about the inmates" gnashing of teeth.
posted by jayder at 7:58 AM on March 14, 2009

I think the one that garroted his girlfriend has kind eyes.
posted by Turtles all the way down at 8:03 AM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

Every single one has purty lips.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 8:13 AM on March 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

Watercolour is so well suited to capturing fleeting events in light, atmosphere or gesture...I thought it was going to be life studies of the inmates.

These were a real let down.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:29 AM on March 14, 2009

What ColdChef said.
posted by nola at 8:38 AM on March 14, 2009

TMN Contributing Illustrator Danny Gregory first learned ... to snap bras at the Kibbutz Givat Brenner, to light a match with one hand at Princeton University, and to mount sheep...

I quit reading right there.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:42 AM on March 14, 2009

finding something redemptive about this project is tough going. on the purely technical level, they are merely okay. as portraits, i'm a little wary of his process: making watercolors from mugshot photographs? what exactly is the value of a 'portrait' two mediums removed from the subject? (quick. someone say, 'um . . . ask gerhard richter.' i know, i know.) the descriptions of the 'extracurricular' activities seem to be there for a morbidly titillating purpose. this seems like a slight project that is relying on the extraordinary nature of its subject matter to carry it. and then, of course, there is the tone of his introduction:

Then I discovered the ultimate yearbook (though it’s hard to get the graduates to sign it)

yuk yuk!

just a little too flippant for my taste, given the magnitude of human suffering the work itself is ostensibly addressing.
posted by barrett caulk at 10:45 AM on March 14, 2009

Read that as "Watercolors *by* people on death row" - now that would have been interesting.

This isn't.
posted by forallmankind at 10:48 AM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

for a more humane exploration of a thoroughly hidden population of the states, consider these portraits of inmates at angola by deborah luster. and here is a video where you can see how the images are displayed and a short interview with the artist.
posted by barrett caulk at 11:10 AM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

pour vous, forallmankind.
posted by barrett caulk at 11:13 AM on March 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

i like them. the descriptions certainly contradict the idea of 'watercolor.' dude needs to learn to spell, though. this one, for instance, was a little confusing to me when i first read it. i'm guessing he means 'them,' not 'him.'
posted by msconduct at 12:47 PM on March 14, 2009

My funeral home is the closest one to the infamous Angola Prison in Louisiana. When a white inmate dies or is executed, we're usually the ones who are called. For the most part, inmates are buried on prison grounds, but occasionally, a family wants the body back and we get the call.

Going out to Angola is always an adventure. It's at the end of a twenty mile road that leads to nowhere but the prison. The prison is bordered by swamp and the Mississippi River on three sides. When I go out there, I am searched top to bottom, I have to turn over my cell phone, my pocketknife, my pistol, and strangely...any maps I might have in the car.

I go through four levels of security before I reach the prison morgue, and then on the way out, each of those security stations inspects my "passenger" to make sure there's no foul play involved.

As a running joke, right before we leave the gates of Angola, and in front of the guards, we always yell to the body in the back, "Coast is clear! You can stop holding your breath now!" Never fails to crack up the guards.
posted by ColdChef at 2:56 PM on March 14, 2009 [4 favorites]

The "casual" draftsmanship and coloring kill this for me, so to speak; since a mug shot model will pose as long as you need, I don't understand why the artist chose to use such a doodley style. ("Doodley!" I know... it's been a while since art school.) If he's asking us to consider these people's faces, why not render in detail?
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 3:05 PM on March 14, 2009

Note to self: never ask ColdChef the origin of his username.
posted by yoink at 3:46 PM on March 14, 2009 [2 favorites]

The "John George 'Mink' Brown" one freaks me out a little because the use of "dad" without a pronoun (plus the informal tone) makes it read like the writer is his sibling.

Which would actually make this way more interesting.
posted by Nomiconic at 9:22 PM on March 14, 2009

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