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a literary journal published by the Black Earth Institute dedicated to re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society

Ed Epping

My current body of work exposes how our judicial system remains punitive and disregards rehabilitative practices. Ignoring the realities of a layered society that has imbalanced wealth, discriminatory adjudication, unequal access to counsel, and racist/sexist policies, the juridical practices in this country privilege the wealthy, the educated and the franchised.

Corrections: Exonerated

Machine-embroidered portraits of Glenn Ford and Anthony Hinton
(Left) Glenn Ford, 13′h × 9.5′w, cotton fabric with machine-embroidered cotton thread, 2018
(Right) Anthony Hinton, 13′h × 9.5′w, cotton fabric with machine-embroidered cotton thread, 2018

These portraits are two of the first one hundred pieces in this project. Each piece of fabric (typical of patterns used in prison uniforms) has a pocket and on each pocket is a machine-embroidered portrait of an individual exonerated of their conviction. In this initial phase of the project, I have chosen the one hundred individuals who served the most time between their conviction and exoneration. As of this writing, there are 2,278 exonerated citizens who were wrongly convicted and incarcerated.

Tracers: Lost

Photo of a glass bell-shaped container filled with stainless steel double edge razor blades
Glass, wood, stainless steel double edge razor blades; 16.5″h × 10″ × 10″; 2013

In 2013, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs released a study that covered suicides from 1999 to 2010, which showed that roughly 22 veterans were dying by suicide per day, or one every 65 minutes. That equals eight thousand and thirty per year. Within this glass bell jar, there is one stainless steel double-edged razor blade for each veteran who took their own life in one 365 day period.

Under Siege: IV Amendment

photo of a man with hands in air printed on a commercial shooting range with holes spelling out the IV amendment to the US Constitution
35″h × 23″w; paper commercial shooting range target punctured, 2016

In this hands-up image, we see a young, Black man standing in the pose of surrender. This image is a paper target sold at firing ranges to anyone who wishes; it is not intended for police restraint-training exercises. The image is perforated in its upper regions with the IV Amendment to the US Constitution. Perforations increase and obliterate that text and the figure. The latter is suggesting the violent violation of the document meant to protect “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures….”


Ed Epping’s current body of work, CORRECTIONS (2013–present), uses drawings, sculptural forms, collages, books, and public projects to explore the social injustices of mass incarceration systems within the United States. Focusing on the individuals targeted by judicial systems and cultural policies, the work aims to build public knowledge by reimagining mass incarceration in the United States. Granary Books has published four of Epping’s earlier projects. His work has been collected by Museum of Modern Art – Artists Books Collection, Yale, Harvard, the Center for Creative Photography, The Art Institute of Chicago and the Getty Center, among others. Epping received an M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In addition to teaching at Williams College (1977–2017), he has taught at the University of Illinois-Chicago and Central Michigan University. He was the AD Falk Professor of Studio Art at Williams College from 2001–2017. Epping currently lives in Galisteo, NM.

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