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Ring around the rosy - Booster Chair for Death Row

Esperanza Cortes
Year Grant Awarded 2013

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State > NY Zip Code > 10009
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Booster chair for Death Row is an interdisciplinary installation which intersects my work as an educator and my interest as an artist. This installation focuses on a circular floor piece 9 feet in diameter, of 24 pairs of baby shoes (the average size of a pre-k class) cast in steel and linked to a heavy gauged steel chain bound to a large steel lock. Surrounded by the circle is a booster chair, also cast in steel, situated upon an adult wooden chair. 24 painted eye portraits of children encircle the centerpiece. A monitor displaying interviews from urban centers where the work will be on view accompanies the installation. These street interviews investigate the current public perception of the death penalty especially as it pertains to minors being tried as adults.

The title reflects upon the death tone of the nursery rhyme and the installation. I use the circle is a social signifier. I contend that we are all bound to each other socially, politically, and emotionally in our collective behavior. The booster seat and wooden chair symbolize the criminalization and assumption of guilt of many children in our society. The use of steel, a utilitarian material, instead of the traditional bronze, reflects the industrial nature of their incarceration. America continues to defend its right to imprison minors.

The assumptions and biases created and circulated carry social significance that devalue the human currency of some segments of our society. My intent is to call into question the machinations that propel propensities toward segregation which is prevalent in the prison industrial complex.

Ultimately, I intend my work to observe and comment on the role of the individual in society and it's positioning in regard to the state, the media and politics.