Dreaming on Death Row / Hyperallergic

Robin Paris and Tom Williams with writing by Gary Cone, Harold Wayne Nichols, Donald Middlebrooks, “Surrogate Project for Harold Wayne Nichols: The Night Sky Series” (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic unless otherwise noted)

Robin Paris and Tom Williams with writing by Gary Cone, Harold Wayne Nichols, Donald Middlebrooks, “Surrogate Project for Harold Wayne Nichols: The Night Sky Series” (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic unless otherwise noted)

NASHVILLE — Tennessee is the buckle of the Bible belt, situated below the state of Kentucky and just north of Alabama. The temptation of fried pies, which I was told grandma made (not my Jewish grandma, however), Elvis statues as tourist attractions, and as many churches as sex shops lined the horizon of my visit to this Southern state. The second night of my stay, I stopped by a show called Unit 2 (Part 1) at Coop Gallery in downtown Nashville. Organized by Watkins College of Art professors Robin Paris and Tom Williams, this exhibition is comprised of collaborations between students and 11 prisoners on death row in the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution, in northwest Nashville.

The project sought to form connections between people on the outside — outsiders, as the prisoners call them — and insiders, the men inside who are scheduled for execution. The work in this exhibition, which includes drawings, paintings, collages, and photographs, presents a heart-wrenchingly honest portrait of our prison system, the people who are in it, and the opportunity for human connection regardless of the grim reality. The idea for this show came from the prisoners.

Read the full story here: http://hyperallergic.com/83214/dreaming-on-death-row/

The Verge picked it up: http://www.theverge.com/2013/9/17/4739786/unit-2-part-1-coop-gallery-artists-fulfill-death-row-inmates-dreams

The Nashville Scene did, too:  http://www.nashvillescene.com/countrylife/archives/2013/09/24/coop-gallerys-unit-2-part-1-in-hyperallergic