Compassionate Release by Anya Blakeley
A Black woman appears in the piece entitled, “Compassionate Release”. Hands grasping at her and for her appear throughout the piece. A large hand reaches for an old, bony hand. The large hand looks as if it is attempting to cradle it, while the hand above it seems to be grabbing it, almost around her neck. To the right, a white arm encapsulates a dark figure. This figure looks out into the light. On the left of the arm, both a large earring and also tomb-like image. This figure seems to be an ancestor. She represents the cruel and inhumane laws that have governed her life. Above that hand are two figures, floating in the field; one over the other, perhaps beating the disjointed figure. To the left, another white hand reaching toward what appears to be a white, possibly embryonic figure. An unformed hand leads to a light filled doorway, symbolizing the reaching for death, or perhaps symbolizing the predetermined destiny of Death by Incarceration. The black bars in the hair point to a single breast indicating the futility of Women Lifers. A life where the only light at the end of the tunnel is death itself. This is symbolized by the tower above the embryonic figure and the watchful eye above it. A white animal-like skeleton covers the figure, indicating both death as well as the way that the “correctional” system dominates, diminishes, punishes and controls rather than provide opportunities for restoration and redemption.
Acrylic and graphite, 19” x 24”.