American comedian Reginald D Hunter and artist Bob and Roberta Smith headline Art for Amicus
, a champagne reception and exhibition & auction of art by US capital defendants, taking place on 29 Nov 2016 at Temple Church, Temple, London, EC4Y 7BB.
The aims, all the more key given the US election results, are to raise awareness of the human rights abuses surrounding capital punishment and to highlight the importance of art to those in difficult circumstances.
"Art gives a voice to the voiceless" Bob and Roberta Smith, 2015
"Truly, [art] is a reason to live, on death row" Cristi Charpentier, Pennsylvanian public defender, 2016
The exhibition, coordinated by London-based charity Amicus
, which helps to provide legal assistance to inmates facing execution in the US, features arresting portraits, scenic landscapes and many, many images of nature. They have all been produced by men likely to never again see the outside world.
One artist, due to restrictions on art supplies, has painted with brushes made from his own hair and 'paint' from crushed colour pencils, flavoured drink mix and instant coffee. Another writes that officials took away his supplies back in 2005. As such he is no longer able to draw anything - his pieces for Art for Amicus are several years old. A particularly prolific artist has created over 50 pieces of various media, including woodcraft.
Access to materials varies across state lines. Some inmates benefit from relaxed rules on art supplies; others languish in solitary confinement without exposure to positive stimuli. This mirrors the arbitrariness of the death penalty in the US. The race of the victim and perpetrator, the county in which the crime is committed and other factors that simply should not influence the decision to execute, ultimately do.
Please do consider coming to Art for Amicus on 29 November. Now more than ever, Amicus needs your support.
Visit amicus-alj.org for details on Amicus' work and amicus-alj.org/art-amicus for tickets and more information about Art for Amicus.