Painting Requests From Tomoka
Curator: Luca Molnar
Painting Requests from Tomoka is inspired by Photo Requests from Solitary, a participatory art project launched in 2009 by Tamms Year Ten. PRFS was part of Tamms Year Ten’s grassroots organizing to close Tamms Correctional Center, a notorious supermax prison in Illinois that was finally shuttered in 2013. From PRFS’s website:
PRFS offers audiences a direct and powerful connection to people in solitary confinement, either by contributing photographs or by simply reading their requests and visualizing the images they have described. Making these often elaborate descriptions into images, which can then be sent back to the people who conceived of them, completes an artistic collaboration that acknowledges the shared creativity and humanity of individuals on both sides of the prison walls.
It is the unique connection and collaboration this project generates that interest me. In January, Stetson University Community Education Project (CEP) students submitted requests for paintings—no limitations other than their imagination—for Stetson University painting students to fulfill. The call for painting requests went out via a CEP newsletter printed and delivered to Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach, where the state of Florida incarcerates CEP students. Marcus, Dave, John W., Roger, John K., Jacob (who sent us 3!), Mustapha, Robert, and Ken mailed back hand-written requests with vivid descriptions and specific instructions (“listen to Diana Krall’s song from this particular album as you […] paint”). Anonymous, Blaze, Laura Cheshire, Crystal Freeland, Ja’nea Houston, Emma Angela Dennison and Marisa Luz Ingram, Emily Maule, Carly Perales, Natalie Thomas, Gordon Silva, and Jakob Suarez completed the circle of collaboration by painting these requests.