Portraits from Death Row Opens with Visiting Artist Lecture

Lou Jones, one of the world’s top documentary photographers, will discuss his six-year project to record inmates sentenced to death in the state and federal prison systems.

Written by Cory Chandler

Lou Jones, one of the world’s top documentary photographers, will discuss his six-year project to record inmates sentenced to death in the state and federal prison systems.

The lecture and book signing begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday (April 29) in Texas Tech University’s Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library. A reception will follow the lecture.

"My crew and I endured bone-chilling snowstorms, cheap motels, greasy meals and had our bodies frisked numerous times to bring this story to light," Jones said. "We fraternized with some of the best legal minds in the country, and with as many of the most depraved. We made sure we understood who was being killed in order to start a real debate about capital punishment."

The result is a stark portrayal of the human condition and the reasons why 135 countries have banned the practice of execution since 1976.

The U.S. ranks fifth among nations that conduct executions, after China, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, according to Amnesty International. Texas has executed more than 400 prisoners since 1976, representing around a third of the nation’s total.

Jones is known internationally as a commercial and advertising artist for clients including IBM, Major League Baseball, Federal Express, KLM and Nike. Published in People and National Geographic magazines, among others, his assignments often have taken him to Europe, South America, Africa, and the Far East as well as 47 of 50 states.

He grew up in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with degrees in physics. But research couldn’t compete with a career that had him taking pictures of headhunters in Borneo and guerrillas in Central America, opium dens in Singapore, the fall of the Berlin Wall, ancient tall ships and gigantic aircraft carriers—even being incarcerated in more foreign jails than he can remember. He has also photographed 12 successive Olympic Games.

Past president of the New England chapter of the American Society of Media Photographers and a long-time member of their national board, Jones is a charter member of the Advertising Photographers of America and on the board of the Photographic Resource Center at Boston University.

Jones’ images have been exhibited at the Smithsonian Museum and Corcoran Galleries, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, DeCordova and Cooper Hewitt Museums and Detroit Institute of Arts. He has work in the collections of the Fogg Museum at Harvard University, Wellesley College and University of Texas, to name a few. In 2000 the United Nations International Photographic Council presented him with its highest award and Nikon named him one of its Legends Behind the Lens.

The "Final Exposure" exhibit will run from April 29 - July 15. The Southwest Collection/ Special Collections Library is located at 15th Street and Detroit Avenue, near the Texas Tech Library and Student Union Building.

Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays. Limited parking is available with a permit, which visitors can obtain at campus guard kiosks. Parking is unrestricted on Saturday and after 5:30 p.m. on weekdays.

Further project information is available at http://www.fotojones.com/final-exposure/. For more information call (806) 742-3749 or visit www.swco.ttu.edu.

CONTACT: Jon Holmes, manager for exhibits and outreach, Southwest Collection/ Special Collections Library, at (806) 742-3749 ext. 244, or jon.holmes@ttu.edu.