Death Row Art Raises Eyebrows

death row art

Photograph and drawing by Upreyl Mitchell and Kennath Artez Henderson

A powerful art show going on at Nashville’s Coop Gallery has been gaining attention from spectators. Eleven Death Row inmates at Riverbend Maximum Security Prison have taken part in a unique project which exchanges art work with individuals outside of the prison walls. They have collaborated with art students from the Watkins College of Art in a unique fashion. The inmates and college students are sharing their artwork to show their unique perspective of life in prison versus the outside world. The students display their surroundings in nature, while the inmate artists re-create it in stark visions of paint and ink.

The paintings and the line drawings have left a strong impression on both students and inmates. One creation is titled the “Night Sky.” A student captured the breathtaking sight of stars in the night sky seen from the ground through a soft shield of trees. It was a glorious wonder for the inmate artist to experience it, since he had not experienced a starry night sky in over 25 years.

Other work reflects what the average person would consider to be ordinary sights such as a hawk perched on a branch, baby birds nested softly amid currents of a gentle stream, a doe on guard to potential predators. For these men who live in Riverbend, the sight of a tree, stream, or bird is a wonder indeed. This project was a way to share different perspectives and “walk in someone else’s shoes” in a sense. To see some of the art shared by the inmates, click here.

The Art Studio of Rotblatt-Amrany supports the creation and sharing of unique artwork. We have a gallery of our own that is full of art pieces made to inspire creativity. Visit out website to learn what we are all about.
What do you think of this death row art experiment?