Amy Elkins: Black is the Day, Black is the Night

December 13, 2014–January 29, 2015

Eleven Years Out of a Death Row Sentence (River), 2011














Envelope art sent from Death Row, San Quentin














13/32 (Not the Man I Once Was)














Prison Food Tray acquired from Ebay














Terry Washington, Execution #116














Larry White, Execution #122














Karla Tucker, Execution #145














Michael Adam Sigala, Execution #450














Parting Words and Black is the Day, Black is the Night

Opening Reception: Saturday, December 13, 5:00–7:00 p.m.

The Aperture Portfolio Prize identifies trends in contemporary photography, as well as specific photographers whose work deserves a wider audience. This year’s winner, Amy Elkins, submitted two portfolios stemming from issues surrounding capital punishment. Parting Words presents black-and-white portraits of people executed in the United States, constructed via the repetition of their last words. The effect is both formal and abstract, rendering each person’s fate chillingly concrete. In Black is the Day, Black is the Night, the letters Elkins exchanged with prisoners on death row are interspersed with images created in an effort to capture the interior landscapes evoked by these correspondences. Elkins’s work is elegiac and provocative, asking the viewer to engage above and beyond their first impressions of the images.

Amy Elkins (born in Venice, California, 1979) is a photographer currently based in Greater Los Angeles. She received her BFA in photography from the School of Visual Arts, New York. Elkins has been exhibited both nationally and internationally, including at Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, California; Minneapolis Institute of Arts; North Carolina Museum of Art; Light Work Gallery, Syracuse, New York; and Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York, among many others. Her work has been published in the New York Times MagazineEyemazingPDNHarper’sNY ArtsConveyor, and Contact Sheet, among others. Elkins has also been included in exhibition catalogues such as The PortraitPhotography as a Stage: From Robert Mapplethorpe to Nan Goldin, which coincided with an exhibition at Kunsthalle Wien, and The Sports Show: Athletics as Image and Spectacle, which coincided with an exhibition at Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Elkins was an artist-in-residence at Light Work in 2011, and at Villa Waldberta, Munich, in 2012. In 2008, Elkins and Cara Phillips cofounded, a platform for showcasing both established and emerging women in photography. Elkins is represented by Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York.