Damien Echols has to have the most unusual back story of any contemporary artist I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Wrongly convicted of murder, sentenced to death and imprisoned on death row for 18 years, Damien is best known as a member of the West Memphis Three, who were finally released from prison last year when their erroneous convictions were overturned.
While on death row, Damien studied Buddhism and eastern philosophies, developed a daily meditation practice and turned to creating art as a way to escape from and cope with his horrific situation. Not unexpectedly, the resultant paintings, collages and sculptures created during his incarceration, the surviving pieces of which are now on display at NYC’s Sacred Gallery, are very spiritual in nature.
Many of the pieces, encased in plexiglass displays, are small enough in size so that they could be easily hidden from prison guards, who were inclined to destroy works if found in Damien’s cell. Each work is intricately crafted and highly detailed, revealing not only Echol’s natural talent but also his high degree of devotion to his art.
Collage pieces such as the one seen above clearly show a soul in torment. It is impossible to imagine what he and his fellow wrongfully convicted friends went through during their imprisonment.
Echols has been the subject of many films and books but he has a new self-penned memoir out called Life After Death (Available at This Link) which I am looking forward to reading.
Gallery Owner Kevin Wilson Introduces Echols at Saturday’s Opening Reception
Damien Echols’ Moving Forward, Looking Back will be on Exhibit at Sacred Gallery, Located at 424 Broadway, 2nd Floor (Between Howard and Canal Streets) Through January 31st, 2013.
Me With Damien. He is so nice!