Natural Life


Video Projection, Concrete, Steel,
Silkscreen Posters, Perfect-Bound Book
2013-2015


In Collaboration with Tirtza Even

Exhibited at:
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
David Weinberg Gallery (Chicago)
2739 Edwin Gallery (Hamtramck, MI)



Natural Life is an experimental documentary produced and directed by Tirtza Even alongside the legal efforts of the Law Offices of Deborah LaBelle. I was brought on as advisor, designer and producer of the Natural Life installation that included a two-channel projection, various sculptures, and a book.

The project challenges inequities in the juvenile justice system by depicting the stories of several youths who received the most severe sentence available for convicted adults--being sentenced to die in prison (i.e. given a sentence of "natural life" or "life without parole"). These stories are presented against the overlapping contexts of social bias, neglect, apprehension and alienation.

Fear of juvenile crime has in recent years violated the fundamental ideas upon which juvenile court rests, and specifically, the belief in children’s unique capacity for rehabilitation and change. State law makers and the federal government have more and more frequently opted to resort to harsher punitive adult models, demanding that children be put on trial as if they were as culpable, liable and informed as adults who commit similar crimes. Forty-one states in the U.S. elect to enforce a sentence of life without parole (natural life) on youth under the age of eighteen. The sentencing system for youth is especially vulnerable to a challenge where over half of the youth did not, themselves, commit a homicide, and at no point in the process was their youthful status and lesser culpability taken into account.