- Benjamin Wills (I)
documentation of collaborative project, 2019.
I write letters with prisoners. By collecting drawings, objects, newspaper clippings, poems, and writings, I create art that allows America’s incarcerated population to have a positive experience, participating in a growing, traveling art exhibition.
Airplanes is a collection of hundreds of paper airplanes made by inmates across America that I have been collecting for the last six years. The total correspondence, a culminated body, is collected, archived and displayed. When exhibited, the planes are installed in an expansive grid system. In spite of their varietal scope, these paper sculptures unify audiences and prompt productive discussions about mass incarceration and the prison system in America. Collectively, the airplanes offer insight into a world separated by temporal, spatial, and cultural borders. This project has been growing since, 2014, and currently has a digital platform at www.PrisonLetterProject.com.
Rooted in nostalgia, environment, and social justice, my projects generate a contemporary portrait of American institutions. I examine how art operates as a narrative device within these systems while considering how electronic and digital systems engage with the physicality and materiality of art and community. Looking at what strategies artists are employing to create digital lives for their projects: through website construction, digital cataloging, creative coding, and social media functionality, I am interested in the intersections between poetics, labor, and education. More at www.benjamintoddwills.com and @benjamintoddwills.