e x h i b i t s

Eric Kunsman
"Thou Art... Will Give..."

June 9 to July 2, 2005

Opening Reception:
Thursday June 9, 7-9:00 p.m.

Eric Kunsman brings us an exquisite series of images documenting the Eastern State Penitentiary (PA) where traditional black and white photography is brought to new levels of refinement in the "digital darkroom." The penitentiary was "unbelievably harsh during its ‘solitary confinement era’ in the 1800s," says Kunsman. He found himself intrigued by the complex relationship between punishment and altruism that had inspired the creation and management of the Penitentiary. The radiant but somber light, the feeling of abandonment and the textured detail of the aging architecture of the facility give us an eerie sense of the presence of its former inhabitants.

Today, Eastern State Penitentiary (though in ruins) is operated as a museum and it has become a major tourist attraction in Philadelphia. The artist states that "in those ruins you can still feel a presence similar to what the prisoners, themselves, must have felt in the 1800s. You actually experience the sense of loneliness, hopelessness, and search for religion, that must have driven so many of the spirits trapped within its walls." By including reproductions of several Penitentiary manuscripts from the 1800s, Kunsman hopes to provide a historical context for viewers, but the real focal points of the exhibit are sure to be the prisoner’s own words and the Penitentiary’s environment as captured in Kunsman’s luminous, mysterious photographs.