Amy Elkins Wins Aperture Portfolio Prize


Amy Elkins, Eliot Johnson, Executed June 24, 1987; age 38.Amy Elkins, Eliot Johnson, Executed June 24, 1987; age 38.

Amy Elkins is the winner of the 2014 Aperture Portfolio Prize. Elkins submitted two portfolios, both dealing with capital punishment and her exchange of letters with inmates on death row. 

Parting Words consists of black-and-white portraits of inmates who were executed, constructed using the subjects’ own final words.

Black is the Day, Black is the Night intersperses letters exchanged with inmates with images that attempt to capture the interior landscape evoked in the letters, from imagined seascapes to items described by inmates. She has also created color portraits of inmates in which their faces are pixilated and obscured based on the length of time they’ve been incarcerated. 

“A system that uses long-term solitary confinement and capital punishment is broken,” Elkins has observed. The work, thoughtful and elegiac, asks viewers to contemplate the dehumanizing aspects of capital punishment.