This is the third of eight exhibits
intended to present the artwork, graffiti, and other expressions of
incarceration at the former prison site in Lorton, Virginia.
This self-assigned project was undertaken, after the
prison was decommissioned, in my spare time from 2002 to 2008, with the
bulk of the work occurring from 2003 to 2005. My "canvas"
consisted of hundreds of cells and other rooms located in dozens of buildings on more than 2,300 acres spread between the town of Lorton in
Fairfax County and the village of Occoquan in Prince William County.
In reflecting on my work within the walls of the Correctional Facility
at Lorton over the past several years, I recall how repellent the
experience of wandering through and working in such a forbidding place
was at first. Easy distraction with the dust and debris of the abandoned
site, and its strange and ill-defined sounds, soon gave way, however, to
an oblivious fixation with the quest for more and varied prison art and
artifacts to photograph. Eventually, the unseen scurryings of ground
hogs and flutterings
of birds became welcome company in my
solitary journeys through this vast metropolis of bars, bricks,
cinderblocks and plate metal.
Finally, it dawned on me that I had probably set
foot in more prison cells and other spaces at the Lorton facility than any
other person, ever. Yet how different, and "unnatural," was
my experience, compared with any person who ever lived or worked at the
prison on a regular basis. How crowded, noisy and harshly lighted a
place it must have been when operating for its intended purpose! Yet
for me it became a sanctuary of relative quiet and solitude, with only
natural light filtering through shuttered spaces.
Speaking of light, other than the use of
camera-operated flash on some color murals in a few dark situations,
all of my work in the prison was done with naturally available light.
Because of some rather challenging conditions, I have occasionally
manipulated a number of the images somewhat more in post-exposure
production (using Adobe's Photoshop CS2) than I might otherwise have
done. I have attempted, however, to retain a sense of the natural fall
of light on all of the subjects as I found them.
While on the subject of methodology, I should
mention that all of the material in every image presented was exactly
as I found it. No object was ever moved in order to make an image
easier to photograph or more dramatic in its effect. A particular case
in point is the image entitled "Pair of Queens" (appearing in
"Behind Bars II") which probably took the better part of an
hour to photograph before I was finally satisfied with it. But enough
talk; on with the viewing...
Caution: Some images in this exhibit may not be
considered suitable for viewing by children.