Amy Elkins Parting Words

Exhibition Dates:

October 16, 2021 – January 2, 2022
Art League Gallery

Online Artist Talk:
November 11, 2021 | 7:30 p.m. EST
Please join us for this free online event as Amy Elkins speaks about her exhibition, Parting Words, followed by Q&A with the audience. Questions can be posted in the comments.You can join the talk through the following link: Use passcode 356418

November 12, 2021 | 5:30–8:00 p.m. EST
Please join us for a free and public reception as we celebrate all of our fall exhibitions, including Amy Elkins: Parting Words, “Our Strength Is Our People”: The Humanist Photographs of Lewis Hine, and Rachelle Mozman Solano: All These Things I Carry With Me.

Parting Words is a visual archive created out of mug shots and testimony readily available through public record of the 560+ people executed in Texas prisons since 1976, the year the ban on capital punishment was overturned. Using an algorithm, Amy Elkins converted each mug shot into looping excerpts from last utterances ranging from confessions to hymns, protest to sorrows and fears. Parting Words is a work in progress, growing in size with the growing numbers of those executed in Texas, a state responsible for over 37% of all executions in the United States, which is more than the totals of Virginia, Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri, Georgia and Alabama combined.

Amy Elkins is a visual artist currently based in California. She works primarily in photography and has spent the past fifteen years researching, creating and exhibiting work that explores the multifaceted nature of masculine identity as well as the psychological and sociological impacts of incarceration. Her approach is series-based, steeped in research and oscillates between formal, conceptual and documentary. 

Elkins has been exhibited and published both nationally and internationally, including at The High Museum of Art in Atlanta, GA; Kunsthalle Wien in Vienna, Austria; the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, AZ; the Minneapolis Institute of Arts; North Carolina Museum of Art; among others. Her first book Black is the Day, Black is the Night won the 2017 Lucie Independent Book Award. It was shortlisted for the 2017 Mack First Book Award and the 2016 Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation Photobook Prize as well as listed as one of the Best Photobooks of 2016 by TIME, Humble Arts Foundation, Photobook Store Magazine and Photo-Eye among others.

Elkins co-founded Women in Photography (WIPNYC) with Cara Phillips in 2008. The primarily internet-based project showcased the work of lens-based women artists outside of the traditional model of the commercial art world. Since its inception, Women in Photography awarded over seventeen thousand dollars in grants to artists and collaborated with Aperture Foundation, LACMA, MoCP, Leslie Tonkonow, Lightwork, P.P.O.W Gallery, Humble Arts Foundation and many independent women curators.

You can learn more about Elkins and her work

Donate your books

Did you know you can donate your old books to the St. Joseph County Jail? Inmates are always in need of books to pass the time or learn new skills. 

While Amy Elkins: Parting Words is open, you can bring in your books when you visit SBMA. Just hand them to a gallery attendant. SBMA will deliver them to the jail following the close of the exhibition.  

THANK YOU for your donation! 

A few things to note:

  • The jail specifically said they can only accept softcover books, and cannot accept any books about gangs or drugs.
  • Also, these sorts of books will have little or no use:
  • Books about popular culture that are older than 10–15 years old
  • Reader’s Digest condensed versions of books
  • “Gift” books
  • Very advanced/specialized textbooks or other academic books
  • Multivolume encyclopedias
  • Books for young children
  • Travel guidebooks

Elliot Rod Johnson, Execution #24
Ignacio Cuevas, Execution #39
Leonel Herrera, Execution #58

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Charlie Brooks Jr, Execution #1

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