Spanish artists María Jesús González and Patricia Gómez have created large-scale prints, photographs and related videos during their artist residency at the now decommissioned Holmesburg Prison in Northeast Philadelphia. The artists, neither of whom has exhibited previously in the U.S., have a collaborative practice grounded in art conservation; utilizing a modified version of a technique known as strappo, they work primarily to preserve the surfaces of buildings—the veritable “skin of architecture”—by detaching a wall’s paint with glues and fabric and transferring that surface paint, in its entirety, to a new canvas. In Philadelphia, they worked at the now abandoned Holmesburg Prison, prior to its demolition, creating large-format “printings” of drawings, paintings, and graffiti left by former inmates on the walls. Doing Time | Depth of Surface features the artists' prints as a physical archive of the prison cells, including markings left by the inmates who lived there.
Holmesburg prison was built in 1896 following the widely replicated wheel and spoke plan designed by John Haviland for the Eastern State Penitentiary in 1829. It was in use for nearly a century, finally closing its doors in 1995.