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LA ART SCENE By Mandara Takowsky mtakowsky “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” — Thomas A. Edison

The Artist & the Prisoner

Herman Wallace is the longest-serving prisoner in solitary confinement in the United States. For more than 40 years he has lived in a 6-foot-by-9-foot cell in a Louisiana prison. Jackie Sumell is a New York artist who made it her mission to chronicle on canvas and film the life of Herman. The first question she asked when she began her inquiry 12 years ago: “What kind of house does a man who has lived in a 6-foot-by-9-foot cell for over 30 years dream of?” The answer is surprising and powerful as is the life-changing journey of Wallace.

Herman Wallace's sister Vickie Wallace & Jackie Sumell at Jackie's art exhibit.

Paper house made out of Herman Wallace's letters.

Jackie & a model of Herman Wallace's cell.

HERMAN’S HOUSE... is powerful art.

Herman’s House is a moving account of the expression his Imprisoned in 1967 for a robbery he says that he did, Herman struggle found in an unusual project by Sumell. Imagining Wallace received a life sentence for a murder he denies doing. Wallace’s dream home began as a game, thenbecame an This life-changing event happened in 1972, in the Louisiana interrogation of justice and punishment in America. State Penitentiary Angola, when Wallace (a former Black Herman’s House is a story of resilience in prison and the Panther) was accused of murdering a prison guard (Brent transformative power of art. “The House That Herman Built,” Miller), as was another prisoner, Albert Woodfox. Both men debut in Germany in 2006 and featured a full-scale wooden were put in solitary confinement and convicted. Another man, model of Wallace’s cell where gallery the Black Panther Robert King was also placed guests were encouraged to spend time. in solitary (convicted for a different murder). Wallace is currently incarcerated in the Elayn The men became known as the “Angola 3.” Hunt Correctional Center in Louisiana. Through the King was freed in 2001, and this year efforts of award-winning filmmaker Angad Singh Woodfox was released. Wallace remains in Bhalla, Herman’s House is part of the 26th seasolitary confinement 23 hours a day since son of the award-winning PBS series POV (Point being incarcerated and continues to appeal of View). The film streams on POV’s website until his murder conviction. In 2002, Wallace got a August 6th. proposal from New York artist Jackie Sumell, Sumell and Bhalla’s project creates a space for us who asked... “What kind of a house does a to examine the racial and class divisions that man who has lived in a 6-foot-by-9-foot cell underlie American justice. “There are 2.3 million for over 30 years dream of?” She would people in jail in the United States,” says Bhalla. chronicle his life behind bars, BUT would “More than 80,000 of those are in solitary conneed his help. Hundreds of letters and phone finement. Herman’s House is an effort to humanize calls between Wallace and Sumell over a Herman Wallace inside Louisiana at least one person behind bars. l 12-year period would make history. State Prison aka Angola Prison. Visit

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Photo Credit: Mizue Aizeki & Storyline Entertainment

Outside The Lines FOR

art enthusiasts young and old... a unique collection of artwork from more than 100 of the most imaginative masters of our times: fine artists, animators, cartoonists, graphic artists, illustrators, musicians, photographers, street artists, video game artists, and more. It’s more than a coloring book, it features original and recognizable line drawings—most commissioned for this book. llustrations by works of Keith Haring, Shepard Fairey, Exene Cervenka, Gary Baseman, Jesse LeDoux, Jen Corace, Buff Monster, Carol Es, J, Logan Hicks, and more. It’s perfect for a rainbow of imagination. L.A. art enthusiast Souris Hong-Porretta creator of the book said: “My daughter, Lulu inspired Outside the Lines because of all her coloring books from all over the world, she kept going back to her Moebius and Andy Warhol books. I conceptualized a coloring book with art by our creative cabal and thus began Outside the Lines.” l

An Integrated Marketing Manager for the Audience, Souris is a client liaison to a roster of visual artists and blogs about art and culture at Hustler of Culture (, and culture, children, and creativity at Tiny Iron Fists (

September 3, 2013; Perigee Trade; 978-0399162084.

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