Tagged: tamms

Notes from the Urban Homestead – Day Six

Saturday, June 5

My only chore today was to feed the chickens & bunny.  This was also the day of the mud stenciling action to raise awareness about Tamms, a prison in Southern Illinois where all of the inmates, many of them mentally ill, are kept under permanent solitary confinement, allowed no contact, phone calls or visits and kept in their cells about 23 hours a day.  Here in the good old USA, people are locked up and treated in a way that could only be defined as cruel and unusual.  The organizers pass out sheets of paper with quotes from the stories of Tamms prisoners, and it’s horrific.  Feces smearing is not uncommon (nor is suicide, self mutilation and total mental breakdown).  We talk about this repeatedly as we roam around the city making huge stencils on streets and overpasses with shit-brown mud.

I tell the “inventor” of the mud stencil technique, Jesse Graves, that you wouldn’t be able to do mud stenciling in Seattle because of the salmon.   Mud runoff contributes to water turbidity, which impacts salmon spawning and reproduction (for the Watermark project that I did with Vaughn & Nicole, we wanted to use dirt but ended up going with sunflower seeds).  This is a shame because the mud stencils are really beautiful and in the use of natural materials, more environmentally responsible than spray paint.  Nance, of course, gave me some special white desert mud.  It took some convincing to get the rest of my “team” to try the white mud but once we did, they were hooked!  It is so beautiful – very close to white paint.  We did a special white stencil on the dark grey sidewalk outside the Chicago Board of Trade building.