Saturday, March 28, 2009

Art and Truth in Justice

In his essay essay "The Origin of the Work of Art," Martin Heidegger he writes, "art lets truth originate." We're pleased that artist Pam Aloisa is using her artistry to illuminate truths in Todd's case. She writes about her "Todd Newmiller Series" of paintings:

The subject is based on the true life experiences of Coloradan Todd Newmiller, convicted and sentenced to 31 years in prison for murder. Todd, his family, and a growing number of friends and supporters steadfastly claim his innocence. Details of the crime investigation and trial have been discussed in the public forum and many issues remain unresolved. My personal interest was also piqued by the unfolding of tremendous personal drama in the case that also involved Todd's younger brother, Joel, a very strong set of parents, and a number of incompetent highly-paid professionals.

Here are three of the paintings and Pam's description of each:

"Todd's Cell"

“Todd’s Cell” is an interpretation of the claustrophobic space of a cell but with some odd distortions and juxtapositions to make the space enclose the viewer of the piece as well. You get a sense that the room is closing up around you. The colors are more modulated than the larger works; there is nothing very inviting or warm about the interior of this space.

"I Am Ahab"

"I am Ahab," is directly taken from the title of Todd Newmiller’s blog entries of writing from prison. The work features an abstract cubical with the narrow window that is standard in cells today. Outside the window is a slice of the life that is denied those inside: warmth, coziness, beauty (texture, color, nature), and family. Pages flutter, never reaching the floor or resolution. The endless boredom of incarceration is part of the message of this piece.

"Nothing to Say"

"Nothing to Say," is a satirical look at the family visits between Joel and Todd. In the blog site, Joel described these visits. Whiling away the hours, they draw and doodle, covering pages with funny cartoons and whimsical humor. In my translation, all pages are empty and no hands hold tools capable of making any marks. The imagery is startling and makes us uneasy.

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