Fantastic project this — it marries snark, with traditional craft, with urgent PIC politics.

Emily Waters Design

Decorated by the shop of Louis Marie François Rihouët, French Hard-paste porcelain with enamel and gilt decoration Decorated by the shop of Louis Marie François Rihouët, French
Hard-paste porcelain with enamel and gilt decoration

My idea is to tie the history of solitary confinement at Eastern State Penitentiary with the present conditions of the American penal system. The inspiration for my installation came upon seeing a photo of the Dessert Plate, created at the Rihouet Factory in Paris, circa 1838, which was part of a larger collection of souvenir plates that presented contemporary images of Philadelphia tourist attractions.  The sight of a prison, a place of suffering and isolation, on a dish designed to serve the sweetest confections seemed wierdly incongruous and startling, even if the original intention was benign and idealistic.

I learned that solitary confinement at ESP, an early 19th century “progressive” experiment, was discontinued in the early 20th century.  Since the end of our last century, however, the practice nationwide has grown to unprecedented…

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