Some Prisons are Soft

Some Prisons are Soft is a recent digital composite that touches on the idea that figurative prisons exist and are largely self-imposed. I combined an unfinished abstract painting that is pink and has a design stamped on it in an unadulterated Titan Buff with an old photograph of a Great-aunt and second cousin behind a photograph of an old building on the grounds of the Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary.
In the family photograph my aunt is dressed in heels, a hat, and a string of probably some stylish (for the time) costume  jewelry carrying another smaller child, a bag, and my second cousin Cathy’s doll. Cathy also wears a hat and although you can’t see it in the digital composite carries a spring flowered gift box. Her dress is ruffly while Aunt Maryanne’s has more of a slim-line Jackie Kennedy look. They could have easily been dressed for an Easter celebration. The original photograph is in black and white but from the white appearance of their clothes in the old picture they were obviously wearing light colored clothes. I decided to make them pink because of my perception of the original picture as a line of female succession. My aunt smiling and surrounded by the trappings of femininity: flowers, carrying and helping, children/babies, the giving (of gifts) and then my cousin, sullen but still participating in the whole process, assuming the same trappings with the baby doll standing in for her future daughter. This is, I whole-heartedly admit, a rather bleak view of what was probably a happy family holiday gathering.


I placed the cut-out of Alcatraz on small risers and lit the picture from the right to get those odd and vaguely ominous shadows to fall on both the background and the early 1960’s version of my relatives. Once it was on my computer I added some color enhancements (the pink) and photography effects to unify the image.