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The art of surviving in solitary confinement

Artist Ojore Lutalo was released from New Jersey's Trenton State Penitentiary on August 26, 2009, after spending 28 years in prison. He spent 22 of those years in solitary confinement in the Management Control Unit. In order to keep his sanity during his internment, Ojore followed a strict regimen of physical exercise, meditation, and study. 

Over the years, Ojore was often asked to describe the conditions that he faced on a daily basis. These requests ranged from simple curiosity as to the physical particulars of his cell and surroundings to the profound emotional pressures and struggles associated with long-term solitary confinement.

Ojore began creating collages both as a way to maintain his sanity and to more adequately convey to his friends the physical and emotional reality he experienced within solitary confinement. He created a wide range of art pieces offering both his unique perspective on the conditions he faced and commentary on injustices more broadly.

Since his release, Ojore has dedicated himself to assisting the American Friends Service Committee in its attempts to expose the true nature and extent of long-term isolation and its effects both on the prisoner individually and on society at large. This outreach often involves speaking engagements in which he uses artwork to reinforce his message, finding that visuals often communicate more effectively than words.

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