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April 16, 2018

Visitors to Eastern State Penitentiary can create art for prisoners in solitary confinement

Interactive installation from Photo Requests from Solitary to debut in May

Art Exhibits
Carroll_Stock - Eastern State Penitentiary Thom Carroll/PhillyVoice

Eastern State Penitentiary on Fairmount Avenue.

An interactive art installation will debut in two adjoining cells at Eastern State Penitentiary on Friday, May 4.

The installation will be from Photo Requests from Solitary, an ongoing project that invites inmates in long-term, solitary confinement in U.S. prisons to request a photograph and then finds an artist to make the image.


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The requests can be "of anything at all, real or imagined," states Photo Requests from Solitary.

"These requests provide an archive of the hopes, memories and interests of people who live in extreme isolation, surrounded by gray walls," the project explains.

At Eastern State Penitentiary, in one cell, there will be a projector displaying a rotating sequence of requests from men and women in solitary in California, Illinois and New York, and the resulting photographs.

In the other cell, visitors will see new requests from those in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. If they feel compelled, visitors can fulfill the requests and upload them to the project's website.

Below is one fulfilled photo request.

A prisoner named Bob asked for "a winter night scene, with a full moon shining on the snow. Trees in the background. A pack of gray wolves standing just outside the trees in the snow, and their pack leader, an all-white wolf, on a plateau, howling at the full moon."

He explained, “To me, wolves represent freedom and so does the wilderness."

"White Wolf"/Casey Dorobek

Casey Dorobek created this image titled “White Wolf.”

Access to all artist installations are included with admission to the historic site. When purchasing online, admission is $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, and $10 for students and children age 7-12.


Photo Requests from Solitary at Eastern State Penitentiary

Friday, May 4 through Friday, Nov. 30
Free with museum admission
Eastern State Penitentiary
2027 Fairmount Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19130