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Eastern State Penitentiary Offers Nighttime Flashlight Tours of Judith Schaechter's Critically-Acclaimed Stained Glass Window Installation

PHILADELPHIA, Nov. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Eastern State Penitentiary commemorates the final month of Judith Schaechter's critically-acclaimed stained glass window installation with special nighttime flashlight tours of the work before it will be removed on December 3, 2012.

(Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20121114/PH13320)

A one-hour flashlight tour led by an expert Eastern State tour guide will take visitors to Cellblocks 8, 11, and 14 to see all 17 windows that comprise Schaechter's The Battle of Carnival and Lent.  Each window will be lit with floodlights from the outside, dramatically filling the cells and corridors only with light passing through the stained glass.  The flashlights in visitors' hands will light the walk between cellblocks.

Flashlight tours are available on the following dates:
Thursday, November 15
Saturday, November 17
Saturday, November 24
Thursday, November 29
Saturday, December 1
Tours are limited to 20 visitors each.  Tickets are $20 for the general public and are available exclusively online at easternstate.org/tickets.

About The Battle of Carnival and Lent:
Guggenheim Fellow Judith Schaechter describes her work at Eastern State Penitentiary as perhaps the highlight of her career to date.  The 17 stained glass windows, all with dark imagery inspired by the prison's architecture and history, were installed in historic skylights on April 1, 2012.  They will be removed on December 3, 2012.

The Battle of Carnival and Lent responds to the penitentiary's narrow skylights and arched windows. The imagery, which Ms. Schaechter describes as "addressing in a non-religious way the psychological border territory between 'spiritual aspiration' and human suffering," is evocative of theology but secular in purpose.

The figures depicted are literally confined by the unnaturally tall and skinny apertures of the window frames – squished, cropped, straining, and reaching – as a representation of the types of incarceration that are basic to the human experience. Ms. Schaechter balances them with more traditional, cathedral-esque stained glass windows, based very loosely on the design of 13th century European cathedral windows (e.g. Chartres). Her intention is to draw an association between the prison's original purpose – to provide an environment conducive to self-reflection and, ultimately, penance – and the harsh realities of solitary confinement.

Ms. Schaechter's past work has almost entirely been installed in museums and galleries as panels over lightboxes. The Battle of Carnival and Lent is unique for both its response to a specific environment as well as for its use of full-spectrum light to illuminate the windows. Ms. Schaechter is often asked which architectural setting she sees as ideal for her work, and her response is always the same...Eastern State Penitentiary. Explains Ms. Schaechter, "ESP is precious to me.  It's my hometown.  It's my place."

Judith Schaechter Bio
Judith Schaechter has lived and worked in Philadelphia since graduating in 1983 with a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design Glass Program. She has exhibited widely, including in New York, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. She is the recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in Crafts, The Louis Comfort Tiffany Award, The Joan Mitchell Award, two Pennsylvania Council on the Arts awards, The Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and a Leeway Foundation grant, and she is a 2008 USA Artists Rockefeller Fellow. Her work is in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Corning Museum of Glass, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institution, and numerous other collections. Ms. Schaechter has taught at The Pilchuck Glass School in Seattle, The Penland School of Crafts, Toyama Institute of Glass (Toyama, Japan), Rhode Island School of Design, and The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.  She currently teaches at University of the Arts and the New York Academy of Art. Ms. Schaechter's work was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial and The 2011 Venice Biennale.

Artist Installations at Eastern State
Since its art program began in 1995, Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site has welcomed more than 60 artists to install site-specific works throughout its cellblocks. In 2012 there are 11 artist installations on view during all public hours, including new installations by Lisa Bateman, Tyler Held, Ryan Legassicke and Judith Schaechter. Artists are chosen for their ability to address Eastern State's primary themes—including issues of crime and justice, architectural history, and the site's fascinating past—with a memorable, thought-provoking approach. All work is created specifically for this National Historic Landmark.

Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site
Eastern State Penitentiary was once the most famous and expensive prison in the world, but stands today in ruin, a haunting world of crumbling cellblocks and empty guard towers. Known for its grand architecture and strict discipline, this was the world's first true "penitentiary," a prison designed to inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of convicts. Its vaulted, sky-lit cells once held many of America's most notorious criminals, including bank robber "Slick Willie" Sutton and Al Capone.

Tours today include the cellblocks, solitary punishment cells, Al Capone's Cell, and Death Row. A critically acclaimed series of artist installations is free with admission. Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site is located at 22nd Street and Fairmount Avenue, just five blocks from the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors, and $8 for students and children ages 7-12 (not recommended for children under the age of seven). The penitentiary is open every day, year round. April through November, admission includes "The Voices of Eastern State" Audio Tour, narrated by actor Steve Buscemi.  For more information and schedules, please call (215) 236-3300 or visit easternstate.org.

Artist installations are supported through a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, a state agency funded by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Arts programming is also made possible with funding from Eastern State's Halloween fundraiser, Terror Behind the Walls.

Judith Schaechter's work appears courtesy of Claire Oliver Gallery, New York, NY. It was funded on USA Projects, an initiative of United States Artists.

SOURCE Eastern State Penitentiary

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