Message From the Artist
When you think of a person in prison what comes to mind?
The intent of my work is not necessarily aimed at breaking stereotypes, but rather, to show that the incarcerated community is made up of folks like you and me. We smile, we joke, and we cry alike, and we all have names.
And even though our modern world sees it fit to incarcerate bodies at an alarming rate of inhumane lengths of time, we as people always find a way to smile in the darkest and dire places. That’s the essence of our humanity, and death alone has the power to take that away.
The men portrayed here are more than a mugshot and number.
They have names.
—Eddie Herena, 2020
About the Artist
Throughout the final four years of his incarceration (2015-2018), Eddie Herena worked as a photographer for the San Quentin News, the inmate-produced paper at San Quentin State Prison. Self-taught on the job, Herena covered a variety of activities -- sports games, arts programs, reconciliation groups, ribbon cuttings, to name a few. His photos also captured the process of image-making itself, and feature steady cams, RODE mics, photo ops, TV crews and documentary film teams. More than any other image-maker, Herena witnessed San Quentin’s unique, outward-looking presentation of itself. The photographs featured here are portraits.