[ Exhibition | Description | Events | Sponsors ]

James Drake, "Conversations--Inside/Outside"
January 25–April 21, 2000
For more information or press prints, please contact Mary-Kay Lombino, 562.985.5761

The University Art Museum is located in the North Campus Center on the campus of California State University, Long Beach
Admission to the museum is free. There is a suggested donation of $3 for adults, $1 for students. All events are open to the public and free of charge.
Tuesday–Thursday, 12–8 PM; Friday–Sunday, 12–5 PM, closed Monday
Tel. 562.985.5761, Fax 562.985.7602,
Email, uam@csulb.edu
Website, http://www.csulb.edu/~uam/

James Drake takes an unusually personal look at the tenuous relationship between imprisoned men and the outside world. The setting for Drake’s new work is a small prison located in downtown El Paso, Texas. A multi-media artist based in El Paso, he gained access to a world where outsiders are not readily welcomed. Incarcerated men and their girlfriends, wives, and families have developed a unique sign language in order to communicate and that language colors Drake’s vision. The women usually stand in sight of the prison window using their hands and bodies to tell their stories. The men, in turn, communicate through half-open blinds and prison bars. Drake’s depiction of this drama, along with his addition of texts from Shakespeare, Lorca, Borges, and others, further dramatizes this unusual phenomenon. The exhibition consists of three discrete works and includes large-scale photographic diptychs, a number of photographs juxtaposed with text, and a room-sized video installation.

When first introduced to a group of women who had taken up residency on the streets outside El Paso County Jail, Drake didn’t have a clear idea how his close encounters with them would inform his work. He was fascinated by how the self-created sign language allowed these women to communicate with their partners inside. In turn, the men would stand against a harsh backlight acting out their responses, their private thoughts translated into actions—flying arms, swaying bodies, clenched fists, and curled fingers.

As with Nan Goldin’s scrutinization of life framed by drug addiction and prostitution, or Andres Serrano’s journalistic approach to the harsh realities of homelessness, these pictures tell us a great deal about humanity. James Drake is completely devoted to the beauty of language and its extraordinary power to create a private and personal exchange between otherwise unconnected individuals.

On February 16th at 5 PM, UAM will host a gallery discussion with James
Drake and Jimmy Santiago Baca, whose recent poetry was inspired by Drake’s work. Following the gallery talk, there will be a reception from 6–7 and Baca will give a poetry reading at 7 PM.
On March 7th at 12:15 PM, there will be a uam@noon gallery talk on the exhibition by artist and CSULB Professor of Art, Todd Gray.
All events are free and open to the public.

This exhibition was organized and is being toured by Pamela Auchincloss Arts Management, New York. Thanks to Tim Caron, Professor of Literature at CSULB, the poetry reading and artist talk received partial support from the Dean’s office of the College of Liberal Arts and the Associated Students. The UAM, a division of the College of the Arts, receives additional support from The Getty Grant Program, and the Instructionally Related Activities Fund. Education programming is provided, in part, by the California Arts Council, The Bess J. Hodges Foundation, The Forty-Niner Shops, and the CSULB Alumni Association.

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