Exhibition - Illustrating Injustice: The Power of Print

Saturday, Apr 17, 2021 at 10:00am

Henry Art Gallery
4100 15th Avenue NorthEast and 41st Street
Seattle, WA 98195

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This exhibition highlights the power of printed material to communicate social and systemic injustices, and features work by French lithographer Honoré Daumier (1808–1879, Marseille, France) and American photographer Danny Lyon (b. 1942, New York, NY), as well as a selection of late twentieth-century prison newsletters.

Daumier and Lyon may have worked in different centuries and on different continents, but each was troubled by the injustices prevalent in his society. Daumier’s prints, which were published in weekly periodicals and hung in publishers' windows, frequently lambasted any and all who were part of the judicial system. In the mid-nineteenth century, Daumier produced a series entitled Les Gens de Justice, or The People of Justice, in which he focused his merciless wit and sharp eye on the legal profession. 

Paired with Daumier’s prints are photographs Lyon made in the late 1960s while visiting six penitentiaries in Texas where he immersed himself in his subject, becoming familiar with those he photographed and the details of their lives and routines. The resulting book, Conversations with the Dead, was published in 1971, and invited the viewer in to these closed worlds to experience for themselves, in some small way, the horror and despair that Lyon had seen. Both Daumier and Lyon created powerful visuals in formats that would reach a broad audience, intending to galvanize public consciousness and solidarity against corruption and social inequity.

In dialogue alongside these works by Daumier and Lyon, which are part of the Henry's permanent collection, are prison newsletters from the Washington Prison History Project. These newsletters function as tools of communication that give a voice to individuals incarcerated in institutions across the state, as well as their friends, families, and advocates, providing a way for them to share information, create community, and gather support.

Exhibition Dates: February 27, 2021 - May 09, 2021.

Location: Upper Level Galleries

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