PRISON'S INSIDE ART 99-2000
Foreword - by TIMOTHY LEARY
Curtis has spent over 15 years living in Japan. His portraiture has let him into advertising for major clients there. He has in this time received most of Japans' top photographic awards.
Curtis studies the classic photographers. He is strongly influenced by the Photo-Secessionists such as Alvin Langdon Coburn, Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz. These studies are clearly evident in his work and style. He has had such sitters as Andy Warhol, Madonna, William Burroughs, Tadanori Yoko-o, REM and Toshiro Mifune, photographing many of these people as private portraits.
In this trip home to America he executed a new series of work. He has studied & viewed TV documentaries and read newspaper articles on prisoners and their art works. This inspired him to do this series documenting these inmates and their art works of the California Penal System.
In this group of prints Curtis shows us an inside view of a world most of us will never know. And art most of us would never see. We see here inmates, Men and Women of all races, and their uses of the limited mediums available to them.
Inmates talk to each other about their art work. They discuss, compare and critique each others works. Their art and the art room is a very special place. They would never indulge in that sort of communication out in THE YARD.
I have witnessed this wonderful convict-art. Having spent almost five years in 50 jails or prisons. I can tell you that it would take a photographer a life time to photograph and document all the art works being created this week in American Prisons.
In my portrait session with Curtis, I could not help but notice his easy going manner. It is almost an effortless style he has, which puts you at ease right away. Yet he is methodical and exacting. Always with a clear vision of his finished print.
Curtis is a New Yorker with a New Yorker's straight forward style and attitude. Refreshing and straight like his portraits. Curtis Knapp was perfect for this prison project. He finds a rich subject and brings it into our view to see and study.
Thank you Curtis for shining your lens light on these rooms of art.