Jackie Sumell at the Mahalia Jackson Center

Mahalia Jackson Center
2405 Jackson Avenue
Early Childhood & Family Learning Foundation
Monday- Friday, 10am – 5 pm

This exhibition features Prospect artists who have developed work in and about Angola State Penitentiary, presented together with art by Angola prisoners. Symposium and community activities at the recently opened school and community center in Central City, organized in collaboration with the Innocence Project and Resurrection after Exoneration, are planned in conjuntion with the exhibition.

Jackie Sumell

Born in Brooklyn NY in 1973, Jackie Sumell is inspired most by the lives of everyday people. As a multidisciplinary artist, her work transcends the boundaries of art and activism in an attempt to connect people in provocative and meaningful ways.

In 2001, Sumell received critical acclaim for her project directly condemning Bush’s conservative policies on reproductive freedoms. Since then, her time has been taken up more and more with her work on behalf of political prisoners in Angola Prison, Louisiana, and specifically her project with Herman Wallace which, in different formats, has been featured in numerous exhibitions all around the world, and in New Orleans during Prospect.1. In 2006 she published the book The House That Herman Built (available in the reception room), which documents the five-year collaborative project between herself and black panther/political prisoner Herman Wallace. In December 2006, Domus magazine featured this project as its cover, and in March 2007 it was covered in the NYTimes Sunday Arts section. More recently, Canadian Director Angad Bhalla has produced the documentary The House That Herman Built that captures Herman and Jackie’s creative journey and close friendship while examining the injustice of solitary confinement.

Sumell was Artist in Residence in Dublin, Ireland November 2006 through November 2008, and previously at the Akademie Schloss Solitude in Stuttgart, Germany October 2005 through September 2006. She received a B.S. in Allied Health/Sports Medicine from the College of Charleston, and an M.F.A. from Stanford University. When she is not traveling, she lives and works in the Seventh Ward in New Orleans.

Sumell asked prisoner Herman Wallace, “What kind of house does a man who lives in a 6-foot by 9-foot cell for over 30 years dream of?” The answer resulted in a five-year exchange giving a voice to Herman’s imagination.

 The House That Herman Built, Prospect.1 New Orleans Biennial, 2008