Young Masters Artist Zemer Peled is currently exhibiting ‘HUNTED’ – a beautiful art installation at the Old Montana Prison, alongside 6 other artists as part of “Hope, Terror, Promise, Rage: Contemporary Perspectives on the Past.
“At times, we must deconstruct and reconstruct ourselves in order to have hope. I have created a fragile environment depicting what the prisoner was looking at day in and day out; porcelain lines are suspended from the ceiling creating a three-dimensional drawing in space. The porcelain fragments are bound to each other by pure gravity. Inspired by the prison bar pattern, each of the fragments are hanging on to each other, dependent, creating a ghostly cell. It is a small territory that one cannot enter.” Zemer Peled
HOPE | TERROR | PROMISE | RAGE
Contemporary Perspectives on the Past
June 20, 2015–June 20, 2016
Old Montana Prison Museum, Deer Lodge, MT 59722
DEER LODGE — At first glimpse, the Old Montana Prison on Deer Lodge’s Main Street has an Old World castlelike quality, some would even think charm.
In the old days when it housed inmates, a prison guard in a tower would lower a key on a rope to a visitor, who would use it to unlock the outer gate and then relock it. After the key was returned to a guard via another rope, the next key would be lowered to unlock the next door and then the next.
Within these walls, from 1871 to 1979, thousands of prisoners served their sentences — some for heinous crimes, others for petty offenses, yet others for crimes they never committed.
On Monday morning, inside the massive stone walls, a lilac shrub blooms in the yard, a meadowlark calls from over the wall and sparrows chirp and chatter in the sunlight.
Shiver down the spine
But walk through the maw of the dark 1912 Cell House and it just might send a shiver down your spine — even on the hottest summer day.
In the 1960s, after a major prison riot in 1959, there was an almost palpable tension in the air, recalled attorney Ron Waterman, who visited clients there.
A former corrections officer, Bill Felton, once said of the Old Montana Prison: “There is more despair in there than death. More souls than people died in that place. … While they were there, the prison took their souls.”
And some part of those souls spoke powerfully to a group of seven Archie Bray Foundation artists.
After touring the prison last year, they were inspired to create a series of art installations. Their exhibit, “Hope, Terror, Promise, Rage: Contemporary Perspectives on the Past,” opens this Saturday, June 20, at the Old Montana Prison in Deer Lodge and will be on display throughout the coming year. The public art opening and reception is from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday. Besides artist talks and refreshments, the Missoula band Big Sky Mudflaps will perform its unique blend of jazz, swing and rhythm and blues.