Mixed media, 2017
The United States imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation; Louisiana incarcerates more of its residents than any other state; and New Orleans contributes the highest number of bodies to its prison industrial complex. Economies of cotton, sugar, and indigo harvested by enslaved men and women built Louisiana and the U.S.; now, imprisoned bodies are forced to perform the virtually free labor that maintains these industries in an unending cycle of poverty, imprisonment, and death. “Sick and tired of being sick and tired” is an oft-repeated phrase referencing the persistent fatigue of unrelenting struggle not unique but certainly endemic to the African American population. The exhausted tension between the desire and need to find rest from the weight of oppressive forces, and the inability, either literally or metaphorically, to achieve that repose on the thin, prison-issue mattresses, is the central focus of this work.