New exhibits coming to AMSET

New exhibits coming to AMSET

“Art can transform people,” said Deborah Luster the artist for one of the two exhibits that opened in the Art Museum of Southeast Texas, Saturday, Sept. 22. 

Luster’s work is featured in her Passion Play collection with five photographs on display as well as a video installation that has never been shown to the public before this exhibit. The other collection called Woven Wonders, which consists of 25 pieces from AMSET’s permanent collection, is comprised of textiles from the John Gaston Fairey collection of Mexican folk art. 

Luster is an award-winning photographer and has work in permanent collections of various prestigious museums from the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. Her Passion Play collection is comprised of black and white portraits of inmates from the infamous Angola Louisiana State Penitentiary and Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women dressed in the costumes from their annual Passion Play performance, hence the name. 

“The body of work we are showing is Passion Play,” said Sarah Beth Wilson, curator of exhibitions and collections at AMSET. “A series of Angola Prison inmates…put on this theatrical performance of the Passion Play every year and they make their own costumes.”

Passion Play is not the first time Luster has photographed inmates. She first photographed their portraits as part of her project One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana. She then went on to create its sister project Tooth for an Eye: A Choreography of Violence in Orleans Parish, which depicted the sites of homicides in the city of New Orleans. In spring of 2013, Luster started photographing inmates in their Passion Play garb, doing so with a stark black background as a means to bring them out of the environment that would cloud the judgment of the viewer and allow the subjects to be seen without bias.

“I wanted to give people an opportunity to really look,” said Luster. “People don’t get to take a good look at people in a prison. Usually they are photographed in a prison situation behind bars (and) they are not really looking at the individual, they are looking at someone in a prison...”



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