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Monday
Aug252014

Meet P.3 Artists | Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick

Studio Visit to L9 Center for the Arts

"Don't you know that slavery was outlawed?"
“No," the guard said, “you’re wrong. Slavery was outlawed with the exception of prisons. Slavery is legal in prisons." I looked it up and sure enough, she was right. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution says:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction."
Well, that explained a lot of things. That explained why jails and prisons all over the country are filled to the brim with Black and Third World people, why so many Black people can’t find a job on the streets and are forced to survive the best way they know how. Once you’re in prison, there are plenty of jobs, and, if you don’t want to work, they beat you up and throw you in a hole. If every state had to pay workers to do the jobs prisoners are forced to do, the salaries would amount to billions… Prisons are a profitable business. They are a way of legally perpetuating slavery. In every state more and more prisons are being built and even more are on the drawing board. Who are they for? They certainly aren’t planning to put white people in them. Prisons are part of this government’s genocidal war against Black and Third World people."

-Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur

 

Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun in front of L9 Center for the Arts which they founded in 2007.

“Louisiana is the world's prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana's incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran's, 13 times China's and 20 times Germany's." -Cindy Chang, The Times-Picayune

Keith and Chandra:  “We’re working on a body of photographs focused on the theme that prisons are slave plantations, especially Angola, It was transformed but it never really ended."

Q:  Is Angola a farm?

 

A: “No it’s a plantation. That’s the new revolutionized word, but we call it a plantation, not a farm. So we’re trying to have more than an art exhibit. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country. The schools are now incubators for prisons, we know that they’re the pipelines and kids in the city are prey. Now they don’t want kids to go into the French Quarter to play music, they have to have permits, and a lot of the things that kids once had have been eliminated, so what are you going to do? Are you going to send them to the streets? Here [at L9] this is an art center for the community. A lot of people here aren’t going to go to the CAC, they’re not going to go to Ogden, but they’ll come here. We have shows for the kids to get exposed to art, framing, and learning how to take a piece of work and turn it into something. But if they’re not exposed to that, it’s not likely that they’re going to walk into that situation. And art is classism, even in this city."

 

“Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages….Prisons thus perform a feat of magic. Or rather the people who continually vote in new prison bonds and tacitly assent to a proliferating network of prisons and jails have been tricked into believing in the magic of imprisonment. But prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings. And the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant, and racially marginalized communities has literally become big business."     —  Angela Davis

     

Keith Calhoun | (L) Glenn Demourelle, Angola State Prison CCR Lockdown, 1980(R) 23 Hour Lockdown, Chess Players, 1980. Archival pigment prints. Images courtesy of the artist.

 

Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick have been documenting the African American community in New Orleans and its surrounding areas for the past three decades. Their work chronicles the unique traditions and deep-rooted elements of Louisiana culture that increasingly represent a vanishing way of life. Their photographs bear witness to both the celebrations and struggles of everyday life of docks workers along the Mississippi River sugar cane plantations on River Road, to laborers working sweet potato and cotton fields. While expository in nature, these works also celebrate the resilient community spirit that defines life in the region. Most recently, Keith and Chandra have produced an extensive body of work on Angola Prison, focusing on its incarcerated men and the impact of the prison system on their families. Angola, or its official name, The Louisiana State Penitentiary, also nicknamed the "Alcatraz of the South", is the largest maximum-security prison in the United States. It is located on an 18,000-acre property that was previously the Angola and other plantations.

Their work will be on view at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art during P.3 (October 25, 2014-January 25, 2015).

 

Keith Calhoun ­ Angola State Prison, Who's that man on that horse, I don't know his name, but they call him Boss, 1980. Archival pigment print. Image courtesy of the artist.

The work of Keith and Chandra has been exhibited at The Philadelphia African American Museum, Civil Rights Museum, New Orleans Museum of Art, The Smithsonian Institution, and Brooklyn Museum of Art. Keith is the recipient of The Press Club of New Orleans Award and The Michael P. Smith Memorial Award for Documentary Photography. His work has been included in several publications, including “Angola Bound," Aperture, 2006; "Heroes of the Storm," Aperture, 2010; and Deborah Willis' Landmark Compilation Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photography 1840s to Present.

For more information about L9 visit http://www.l9artcenter.org/

Written by Social Media Co-Director Danni Shen

Studio Visit to L9 Center for the Arts

 

“Don’t you know that slavery was outlawed?”
“No,” the guard said, “you’re wrong. Slavery was outlawed with the exception of prisons. Slavery is legal in prisons.” I looked it up and sure enough, she was right. The Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution says:
“Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Well, that explained a lot of things. That explained why jails and prisons all over the country are filled to the brim with Black and Third World people, why so many Black people can’t find a job on the streets and are forced to survive the best way they know how. Once you’re in prison, there are plenty of jobs, and, if you don’t want to work, they beat you up and throw you in a hole. If every state had to pay workers to do the jobs prisoners are forced to do, the salaries would amount to billions… Prisons are a profitable business. They are a way of legally perpetuating slavery. In every state more and more prisons are being built and even more are on the drawing board. Who are they for? They certainly aren’t planning to put white people in them. Prisons are part of this government’s genocidal war against Black and Third World people.”

-Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur

 

Chandra McCormick and Keith Calhoun in front of L9 Center for the Arts which they founded in 2007.

“Louisiana is the world's prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana's incarceration rate is nearly five times Iran's, 13 times China's and 20 times Germany's.” -Cindy Chang, The Times-Picayune

Keith and Chandra:  “We’re working on a body of photographs focused on the theme that prisons are slave plantations, especially Angola, It was transformed but it never really ended.”

Q:  Is Angola a farm?

 

A: “No it’s a plantation. That’s the new revolutionized word, but we call it a plantation, not a farm. So we’re trying to have more than an art exhibit. Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country. The schools are now incubators for prisons, we know that they’re the pipelines and kids in the city are prey. Now they don’t want kids to go into the French Quarter to play music, they have to have permits, and a lot of the things that kids once had have been eliminated, so what are you going to do? Are you going to send them to the streets? Here [at L9] this is an art center for the community. A lot of people here aren’t going to go to the CAC, they’re not going to go to Ogden, but they’ll come here. We have shows for the kids to get exposed to art, framing, and learning how to take a piece of work and turn it into something. But if they’re not exposed to that, it’s not likely that they’re going to walk into that situation. And art is classism, even in this city.”

 

“Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages….Prisons thus perform a feat of magic. Or rather the people who continually vote in new prison bonds and tacitly assent to a proliferating network of prisons and jails have been tricked into believing in the magic of imprisonment. But prisons do not disappear problems, they disappear human beings. And the practice of disappearing vast numbers of people from poor, immigrant, and racially marginalized communities has literally become big business.”     —  Angela Davis

     

Keith Calhoun | (L) Glenn Demourelle, Angola State Prison CCR Lockdown, 1980(R) 23 Hour Lockdown, Chess Players, 1980. Archival pigment prints. Images courtesy of the artist.

 

Keith Calhoun and Chandra McCormick have been documenting the African American community in New Orleans and its surrounding areas for the past three decades. Their work chronicles the unique traditions and deep-rooted elements of Louisiana culture that increasingly represent a vanishing way of life. Their photographs bear witness to both the celebrations and struggles of everyday life of docks workers along the Mississippi River sugar cane plantations on River Road, to laborers working sweet potato and cotton fields. While expository in nature, these works also celebrate the resilient community spirit that defines life in the region. Most recently, Keith and Chandra have produced an extensive body of work on Angola Prison, focusing on its incarcerated men and the impact of the prison system on their families. Angola, or its official name, The Louisiana State Penitentiary, also nicknamed the "Alcatraz of the South", is the largest maximum-security prison in the United States. It is located on an 18,000-acre property that was previously the Angola and other plantations.

Their work will be on view at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art during P.3 (October 25, 2014-January 25, 2015).

 

Keith Calhoun ­ Angola State Prison, Who's that man on that horse, I don't know his name, but they call him Boss, 1980. Archival pigment print. Image courtesy of the artist.

The work of Keith and Chandra has been exhibited at The Philadelphia African American Museum, Civil Rights Museum, New Orleans Museum of Art, The Smithsonian Institution, and Brooklyn Museum of Art. Keith is the recipient of The Press Club of New Orleans Award and The Michael P. Smith Memorial Award for Documentary Photography. His work has been included in several publications, including “Angola Bound," Aperture, 2006; "Heroes of the Storm," Aperture, 2010; and Deborah Willis' Landmark Compilation Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photography 1840s to Present.

For more information about L9 visit http://www.l9artcenter.org/

Written by Social Media Co-Director Danni Shen