Brooklyn Public Library’s Central Branch is now exhibiting a powerful collaboration between New Orleans-based artist Jackie Sumell and former prisoner and Black Panther, Herman Wallace. Wallace was a member of the Angola 3, who was wrongfully convicted of the 1972 murder of a prison guard; likely framed due to their political activism. Wallace spent nearly 42 years in solitary confinement and died just days after his conviction was overturned. The project Wallace worked on with Sumell began when she asked him, “What sort of house does a man who has lived in a 6-foot-by-9-foot cell for over 30 years dream of?”
The House That Herman Built is an on-going project that began as an exchange between two individuals and has expanded into an international art exhibition, a book, a documentary film, and is now in the fundraising stages of building Herman Wallace’s dream home in the city of New Orleans. The exhibit includes a life-sized replica of Wallace’s prison cell, selections from his correspondence with Sumell, books from his reading list, and, now in the library’s main lobby, a model of the dream house that he designed. In the wake of his death, this project, in all of its forms, speaks to Herman’s struggle and the struggle of all people forced to endure wrongful convictions and the inhumane conditions of long term solitary confinement. Go see it at BPL or take a look at the video below put out by Democracy Now!