The San Quentin Project
Limited quantities. The San Quentin Project collects a largely unseen visual record of daily life inside one of America’s oldest and largest prisons, demonstrating how this archive of the state is now being used to teach visual literacy and process the experience of incarceration. In 2011, Nigel Poor—artist, educator, and cocreator of the acclaimed podcast Ear Hustle—began…
Contributions by Reginald Dwayne Betts, George Mesro Coles-El, Rachel Kushner, Michael Nelson, Ruben Ramirez, and Lisa Sutcliffe.
Nigel Poor (born in Boston, 1963) is a San Francisco Bay Area–based visual artist and professor of photography at California State University, Sacramento. In 2017, Poor cocreated the podcast Ear Hustle with Earlonne Woods and Antwan Williams, who were both incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison at the time. Her work has been featured in Aperture magazine’s Spring 2018 issue, “Prison Nation,” and in the New York Times.
Reginald Dwayne Betts is a poet, memoirist, and teacher. Formerly incarcerated, he is now a lawyer and author of several award-winning books, including Felon: Poems (2019) and A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison (2010). Betts is currently pursuing a PhD in law at Yale University.
George Mesro Coles-El is currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison and has worked with Nigel Poor on the San Quentin Archive Project.
Rachel Kushner is an American writer, known for her novels Telex from Cuba (2008), The Flamethrowers (2013), and The Mars Room (2018). She lives in Los Angeles.
Michael Nelson served over twenty years in California prisons for a crime he committed at the age of fifteen. In 2018, at the age of thirty-six, he earned his parole. He cofounded and serves as executive director for the youth offender program Kid CAT (Creating Awareness Together). He also cocreated the Acting with Compassion and Truth (ACT) program. Nelson lives in central California.
Ruben Ramirez was born in Pecos, Texas, in 1957. When he was forty-eight, he received a fifteen-to-life prison sentence. During his incarceration, he began, as he says, “a journey of higher learning and enlightenment” and worked with Nigel Poor on the San Quentin Archive Project.
Lisa Sutcliffe is the Herzfeld Curator of Photography and Media Arts at the Milwaukee Art Museum.
Number of pages: 168
Number of images: 97
Publication date: 2021-06-01
Measurements: 8.5 x 11 x 0.9 inches
“The book…challenges perceptions, in this case, of those in prison and of why but more importantly how we imprison them.” —It’s Nice That