Eastern State Penitentiary was designed and built in 1829 by John Haviland. The Penitentiary was revolutionary in its approach to not simply punish, but move the criminal toward spiritual reflection and change. It was the first prison that believed in rehabilitation of inmates with isolation and reflection instead of corporal punishment. After experiencing 142 years of housing criminals through many changes in society and politics, the facility closed in 1971 and has been kept as a "preserved ruin", meaning no significant attempts have been made at renovations or restoration.
I'm working on a proposal for a public artwork that, if accepted, would be installed in spring 2013. Last March, when attending FiberPhiladelphia, a couple of friends and I were able to take a tour. The facility has no heat or electricity so it was a chilling experience on a damp Saturday morning but well worth it. As you can see from the photos, it is a spiritual place with a raw beauty in the details of its own decay bringing to mind many themes that I like to think about. It's always an effort for me to find the exact words to illustrate these ideas for the narrative of the proposal, so I have some work ahead of me.... if only the walls could talk.