SANTA CLARA, Calif., April 21, 2017— Many students who walk the hallways of Santa Clara University’s main library may be surprised to know the background of a highly unusual art exhibit gracing the walls where they study for finals.
Dubbed “Freedom of Expression,” the art exhibit features artwork from 11 men and one woman who have either been exonerated after doing time for crimes they did not commit, or remain imprisoned despite strong evidence collected by Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) that they should be freed.
Since its founding in 2001, NCIP (which is part of Santa Clara University School of Law) has freed 18 people who collectively have spent more than 230 years wrongfully imprisoned. The exhibit was commissioned as another way to enable people to understand how people survive the traumas of wrongful conviction and use art as a vehicle to help them grapple with injustice.
“Exonerees are whole people,” says Hadar Harris, executive director of NCIP. “Art is a way for them to experience their truth and express the trauma of being locked up. It can also be used as a way to help healing when they get out. This exhibit demonstrates the vitality, creativity and humanity of people who are wrongfully convicted.”
The raw artwork depicts various aspects of the inner lives of these men and women.
There are pencil-drawing depictions of people with their heads hung down in despair, created by Francisco Carrillo, Jr., who was exonerated in 2011 after 20 years of wrongful incarceration for murder.
There’s a pencil drawing of Winnie the Pooh by Isaac Duran, who remains incarcerated 14 years after being convicted, wrongfully, his lawyers believe, for attempted murder.
Gary Tomlin, who has lost all opportunities for appeal despite strong evidence that his conviction for raping another man was falsely obtained, contributed an oil painting of a sunflower.
On Thursday, April 27 at 6 p.m. at a reception to honor the exhibit, exoneree Rick Walker will give a short presentation, “Expression from the Inside,” about the importance of art in his journey, which included a 12-year stint for murder of his ex-girlfriend, for which he was proved innocent in 2003.
The public is welcome to attend the exhibit and the April 27 reception, being held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the outside patio of the Harrington Learning Commons. Those attending must RSVP at law.scu.edu/ncip.
About the Northern California Innocence Project at Santa Clara University School of Law
The Northern California Innocence Project (NCIP) is a non-profit clinical program of Santa Clara University School of Law whose mission is to promote a fair, effective and compassionate criminal justice system and protect the rights of the innocent. We challenge wrongful convictions on every front by exonerating the innocent, educating future attorneys, and reforming criminal justice policy.