The story of this, the
longest documentary project of my photographic career, began on 24 August
2002. On that day, a decommissioning ("Razor Wire Cutting")
ceremony was held on the grounds of the former prison site at Lorton,
Virginia, transferring jurisdiction of the property from the District of
Columbia Department of Corrections to Fairfax County, Virginia, via the
United States General Accounting Office.
At that ceremony and the accompanying tour of the
facility, I became fascinated with the graffiti and other artifacts left
behind, mostly by former prisoners but also by former members of the
prison staff, and so I hurriedly began photographing what I could in the
limited time allowed by the escorted tour. I became so obsessed with
documenting on film the existing prison ephemera which might be lost in
the subsequent development of the site for alternative uses, that I
sought, and received permission to continue documenting, in a less hurried
and more comprehensive fashion, the many and varied expressions of
the prison site.
There are a number of individuals to acknowledge for
helping to make this project possible, among them: Winfred Taylor, with
Wackenhut Security, whose key suggestion got the ball rolling; Marcia E.
Hanson, formerly with the Supervisor's Office of the Mount Vernon District
of Fairfax County, whose support and influence opened the right doors;
William R. Lipscomb, with Tecumseh Professional Associates, and his staff
managing the Lorton Project site, particularly Lawrence Starcher and David
Helmandollar, for their patience with and trust in my activities on site;
and latterly, John M. Howard, with the Fairfax County Facilities
Management Division, and Leanna Hush O'Donnell, with the Fairfax County
Department of Planning and Zoning, for their interest and cooperation in
seeing this project to its completion.
Over the course of six years, I managed to make a
little more than a thousand images at the Lorton prison site,
approximately one-quarter of which will be exhibited on this web site over
the next year or so, under the title of "Behind Bars".
Incidentally, this is the first exhibit on this decade-long web site to
display at least some images in color. More about the project as space
permits in subsequent installments.
Caution: Some images in this exhibit may not be
considered suitable for viewing by children.