Published by Oregon ArtsWatch, September 2018, excerpted here
I am watching a group of men set a scene to be photographed. Ben Turanski, one of the prisoners at Columbia River Correctional Institution, indicates I am witnessing “prison innovation” in the works. He and some others are turning one corner of a classroom space at CRCI into a faux hospice. He twists a long piece of plastic wrapper into a cord, like an IV, attaching it to the wrist of Joshua Wright, who is lying on a makeshift hospital bed. Now done setting the scene, Turanski sits beside Wright and takes his hand.
From several feet away, Ben Hall takes a photo with a digital camera. When I ask him about what is happening, he indicates that the scenario he is photographing is inspired by his time working hospice in prison.
“What changed you in prison and are you happy about that?” question by Sara Lamens from Belgium, answer by Ben Hall in collaboration with Ben Turanski and Joshua Wright, photographed by Ben Hall
Anke Schüttler stands outside the frame, making suggestions about photographic composition. Schüttler—a photographer by trade and an MFA candidate at Portland State University’s School of Art and Social Practice—is one of the facilitators of this art class at CRCI, a minimum security prison housing 595 *mostly* male prisoners in Northeast Portland, Oregon. (I add the caveat because, in my few hours visiting the facility, I was made aware of at least one female-identifying prisoner.)