Death Row Inmates Have Been Making Some Powerful Art And Here It Is


An exhibition of art by death row inmates has just opened in New York.

The show is called Life after Death and Elsewhere, and features work by Tennessee prisoners condemned to state execution for their crimes.

Apexart, a nonprofit gallery in Manhattan, is hosting the show, put together by Robin Paris and Tom Williams, both professors at Nashville’s Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, the show features over 30 works by a dozen condemned men, most of them murderers, Vice reports.

apexart3Derrick Quintero, If My Journey Were a Book Title. Credit: Apexart

The artist-inmates include Abu Ali Abdur’Rahman, G’dongalay Berry, Declicho ‘Ironhawk’ Besh, Gary Cone, Kennath Artez Henderson, Billy Irick, Akil Jahi, Donald Middlebrook, Derrick Quintero, and Dennis Suttles.

A collection of paintings are featured in the exhibition by Middlebrook.

apexart6Ron Cauthern, New Monument for Nashville. Credit: Apexart

He is imprisoned for murdering a 14-year-old boy, whom he beat, stabbed, raped with a stick, slashed across the chest in an X pattern, and urinated on before leaving him under a mattress in a dry river bed.

apexart4Harold Wayne Nichols, A World Without Prisons. Credit: Apexart

Middlebrook’s works recount a childhood of abuse, heroin addiction and prostitution. His paintings show his wish to express remorse to his victim’s family, and how that impulse is strangled by a capital punishment system urging silence, unless an inmate wishes to jeopardise their appeals case.

apexart5Akil Jahi, Proposal for a Monument. Credit: Apexart

Abdur’Rahman used his Cherokee background and prison spirituality as inspiration to create a show of natural figures representing his escape into nature to flee childhood abuse he suffered.

apexart7Dennis Suttles, Flowers from Death Row II: The Tennessee Supreme Court. Credit: Apexart

His display also includes a descriptive poem and placard featuring audio narration by his spiritual advisor, smattered with inmates singing and making animal noises.

apexart2The memorial for Ironhawk. Credit: Apexart

The exhibition runs until October 24.