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In 1991, Lucinda Devlin began photographing in penitentiaries across the United States with the permission and cooperation of local authorities. She entitled the resulting series, completed in 1998, The Omega Suites, — alluding to the final letter of the Greek alphabet as a metaphor for the finality of execution. Twelve images from the series of execution chambers and associated spaces, such as holding cells and viewing rooms are featured in this exhibition. With over 3,000 inmates on death row and the majority of US citizens supporting the death penalty, The Omega Suites brings focus to one of the great ethical questions facing contemporary Americans, about which public opinion continues to be divided. Each photograph is labeled so the viewer is aware of how each image plays a particular role in the somber process of capital punishment. “My personal view of the role of capital punishment in our society is not an issue in these photographs” states Devlin. “Rather, I have attempted to let the environments themselves communicate directly with viewers.”
Working with a Hasselblad camera and long exposures in existing light, Devlin captured striking images of the architectural spaces in penitentiaries. Viewers are often drawn to her compositions and then repelled by the reality of the subject. The carefully composed and clinically sterile images are as objective as our preconceptions allow.
Lucinda Devlin's work has been shown extensively in Europe and the United States, including international venues such as the 49th Venice Biennale (2001) and the 25th Biennale de Sao Paulo (2002). She is the recipient of numerous awards including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Aaron Siskind Foundation, and an Artist's in Residency at the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, Berlin. Born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1947, Devlin lives and works in Indianapolis, Indiana.
This exhibition is supported in part by a grant from the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts and the Richard and Ethel Herzfeld Endowment Fund.
Special Event with the Author and Artist
Tuesday, April 13
In conjunction with the exhibition The Omega Suites, author and art historian Barbara Rose will give a talk and Lucinda Devlin will respond on Tuesday, April 13 at 6 p.m. in the museum. Barbara Rose wrote the introduction to the 1992 hardcover edition of Lucinda Devlin's The Omega Suites.