Murder is not generally a subject in which most artists find themselves immersed. But twelve years ago, Deborah Luster's mother was murdered, sparking a photographic project which led her to three different state penitentiaries in Louisiana, her home state, as a means of healing and understanding. Photographing inmates against a black backdrop or in the fields, Luster captures the individuals housed behind the barbed wire and prison cells in a project called "One Big Self" . Cutting 5 x 4" aluminum and coating it with a liquid silver emulsion, Luster creates images which serve as reliquaries for these men and women whose cockiness, youth, bravado and shyness are imbedded in these pocket-sized contemporary tintypes. Through these images she asks us to "see beyond their crimes ... to suggest that our punitive models are as reflective of who we are as our reward system."
Deborah Luster's earlier body of work, Rosesucker Retablos, is based on Mexican religious votive paintings created as offerings of thanks for spiritual or medical miracles. Luster photographs people she connects with, creating her own "saints," transforming them into luscious magical portraits which are printed on aluminum, layered with paint. Poet C.D. Wright creates the text which accompanies the images. The final pieces radiate with an energy rarely seen in photography today.
Funding provided by the Brittingham Fund.
Map with parking and event location.
Parking: Parking is available at the City of Madison State Street Campus Ramp (entrances on Frances and Lake streets) and in the University Square parking ramp, entrance on Lake Street. Metered parking is available in the lower level of UW Lot 46, entrances on Lake and Frances streets. parking is also available in UW Lot 83 under Fluno Center, entrance on Frances Street, and in UW Lot 7 under Grainger Hall.