Monday, January 25, 2010

Self-Portrait in Moundsville.

c. David Grim (taken 8/27/09)

This self-portrait was taken outside of West Virginia Penitentiary in Moundsville, WV. I was across the street visiting the museum that accompanies the great mound (Grave Creek) built thousands of years ago by the true "early Americans".

I had been to the prison before. In fact it was the very first penal institution that I photographed. I took the tour, but I was so wrapped up in the visuals and the ambiance that I didn't even listen closely to what I could tell were fascinating tales told by the guide (who had been a guard when the place was still in operation).

Since my initial visit, I've learned a fair amount about the West Virginia penitentiary. Much of what I've gathered about its recent history came to me by way of a series of documentaries directed by the excellent filmmaker Jacob Young. As part of his Different Drummer Series (which he did for the West Virginian affiliate of PBS), the director interviewed and featured Donald Bordenkircher, who had been brought in to get the prison under control after a bad riot in the late 70's. It's definitely a must-see for anyone in spitting distance.

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