When I first met Donald “C-note” Hooker in 2019, he told me that in prison, the artists are the news. They become reporters to the outside world because journalists can’t get behind the walls. Any injustices happening have to be reported through innocuous art that is sent to the outside. 

It was the summer before my senior year of university, and I was completing an internship in New York City. I was reading a lot about false convictions and was stunned to see the treatment these victims received even after being released. No one seemed to care about what happens to a person after they are deemed to be guilty. 

I had an upcoming collection I needed to create for our final fashion show before graduation. I decided to start looking into the issue of prison reform further–I contacted the Innocence Project, talked to a judge, and conversed with people online about their experiences locked up. 

I came in contact with C-note because he was VERY bullish on internet marketing. He was running a blog (https://darealprisonart.wordpress.com/) featuring works from incarcerated artists. I reached out to him and immediately hopped on a phone call, interviewing him about his work and experiences as a current inmate. His work primarily focused on things no one else was talking about–such as forced sterilizations at a women’s prison in California. I continued to have phone calls with him for a year, talking about art and policy. He gave me permission to feature works by himself and other incarcerated artists in my collection. 

I used a range of textile manipulation, such as laser cutting, screenprinting, embroidery, and tattooing on leather to place the different works on my garments. On each outfit, a QR code was featured that linked to the collections and information about the artist. When their works went down the runway on my models, viewers would be able to scan and read what the work was about. I wanted to use my platform to give high visibility to these stories that had to be told using pictures rather than words.

The COVID-19 pandemic put a halt to this runway show, but we hope to show the works in person soon.
Back to Top