Kathy Weaver from Chicago, IL
The panopticon was a type of prison architecture developed in the 1800s and was designed to have power over the prisoners’ minds as well as bodies. The circular formation of tiers of cells around a central guard tower made the incarcerated aware of the constant presence of authority. However, whether or not one was actually under surveillance was unclear to those jailed. The panopticon became a symbol of social control over people’s minds and bodies.
America has the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world. Stateville prison, an hour’s drive from Chicago, was a modern-day adaptation of the panopticon plan. Thankfully, after a court case brought against it, Stateville was closed in 2016.
African Americans and other people of color make up a skewed concentration of those incarcerated. The panopticon and other surveillance methods are yet another example of the dehumanizing and degrading racist way African Americans are treated in the United States today.
43" x 52"
Charcoal, airbrush, acrylic; stitched, burned, machine stitched.