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Answers Without Words

Cascade Paragon Gallery

A photographic research project between prisoners and the rest of the world

Answers Without Words

What’s the hardest part of your day? Question by Isabel Kiesewetter from Germany, answer by J Barclay in collaboration with Tom Price, Ben Hall, Chad Daggy and Donsha Jackson, digital inkjet print, Answers Without Words, CRCI 2018

A collaborative exhibition of exchanges exploring incarceration, communication and the creative impulse.

  • Dates: September 4 – 18, 2018
  • Opening reception: Tuesday, September 4, 4-7pm
  • Gallery hours: Wednesday – Friday 12-7pm, Saturday 12-5pm

Paragon Arts Gallery presents Answers Without Words, a collaborative photographic research project. Please join us for an opening reception on Tuesday, September 4, 2018 from 4 -7pm featuring music by Musonda Mwango and a reading by Adam Olson.

Public programming

  • Wednesday, September 5, 6pm-7:30pm:
    Opening at Columbia River Correctional Institution with Artist Lecture/Art & Social Practice MFA graduation talk by Anke Schüttler.
  • Saturday, September 8, 2pm:
    Panel discussion at PICA as part of TBA Institute with members of the Art and Social Practice CRCI volunteers and collaborators.
  • Thursday, September 13, 6pm-8pm, Paragon Gallery:
    Public Conversation “Thinking outside the fence-innovation in and around the prison system” organized in collaboration with Roshani Thakore, guests: Elizabeth LaCarney, program manager at CRCI, Cory Lira and Kate Stubblefield, members of Critical Resistance, one of the formerly incarcerated collaborating artists (TBA).
  • Saturday, September 15, 11am to 2pm, Paragon Gallery:
    Photography workshop answering questions by CRCI artists, dealing with similar constraints they were faced with.
  • Tuesday, September 18, 6pm-8pm:
    Comedy Talent Show at CRCI, organized by the PSU Art and Social Practice MFA program. RSVP for attendance at CRCI needed!

All events are free and open to the public.

About the project

Answers Without Words is the outcome of a dialogue between artists incarcerated at Columbia River Correctional Institution and photographers from all over the world. The prisoners each came up with questions they were curious about for different countries around the world, which were sent to photographers in those specific countries. The photographers responded through photographs instead of words, following up with their own questions that were sent back into the prison. The incarcerated artists have worked together to create another round of answers without words from the prison back into the world.

The internet is a research tool we usually take for granted in our daily lives. That access is lost in incarceration; prisoners are restricted in terms of what they can learn online. On the other side, not many people on the outside have access to direct information or a good understanding about what happens behind prison walls.

Answers Without Words seeks to re-establish an analogue and highly personalized version of internet image research, creating a dialogue between artists from the incarcerated community at Columbia River Correctional Institution (CRCI), a minimum security men’s facility located in North Portland, Oregon, USA, and photographers from all over the world.

The prisoners sent 5 to 10 questions to a photographer of their chosen country. Instead of answering with words, these questions were answered with photographs and prompted by a returning set of questions from the photographers to the prisoners. A photography workshop lead by Anke Schüttler guided the prisoners to create their own series of image-based answers from the prison back into the world.

The project goal is to create an overlap and connection between the prison community and the outside world by sharing personal stories with the public. We want to create awareness for the issue of mass incarceration all the while focusing on one person at a time to make people feel human again. With our exchange we challenge our expectations of a foreign country and our expectations of prison and create artistic opportunity for both artists at CRCI and the photographers abroad.

The questions and photographs are presented in two parallel exhibitions, one inside the prison and one more publicly accessible at the PCC Cascade Paragon Arts Gallery.


Artists in this project include Quandrell Dumas, Elsa Leydier, Donald Ray Tunis, Maria Jauregui Ponte, Tom Price, Torsten Schumann, Monika Sala, J Barclay, Mischa Christen, Isabel Kiesewetter, Richard Lundquist, Anna Drvnik, Musonda Mwango, Maren Winkler, Joshua Wright, Øyvind Hjelmen, Ben Hall, Sara Lamens, Ivan Jaramillo, Birgit Krause, Donsha Jackson, Tay Kay Chin, Justin FinCannon, Kathleen McIntyre, Daniel Bluestein, Dafna Talmon, Joey Lucero, Alice Myers, Michael Brown, Gemma-Rose Turnbull, Dave Alberts, Carolina Magnin, Ben Turanski, Mario Perez, Benjamin Stiller, Sean Figueras, Jake Diepenbrock, Phillip Odom, Larry Loftin, Nathan Eiland, Judas Vanelli Callentano, Timothy Patrick, Adrian Chacõn, Chad Daggy, Stephan Hartley, Guy Snook, Charles Boehm, Adam Olson, Roshani Thakore, Anke Schüttler, Pete Brook, Lovely Aguilar, Jose Avina, Courtney Bennett, Vhonn Encarnacion, Stephanie Gonzales, Charles III Goodman, Hoa Huynh, Sam Justice, Ryan Kwock, Madeleine LaRocque, Meara Little, Joseph MacLennan, Amber Morris, Bradley Noxon, Allison Pordan, Angelea Ranzenbach, Chad Ring, Joshua Rios, Liliana Ruiz, Joseph Sandoval, Sendy Souvannarangsy, Ashleigh Walters, Lukas Weiss, Jessica Wilson.

Project funding

This project is kindly funded by the Precipice Fund, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Calligram Foundation and Eicholz Fund.

  • Precipice Fund logo
  • Calligram logo

About the organizer

Anke Schüttler is a social practice artist with a background in photography, currently living in Portland to pursue her MFA in the Art & Social Practice program at PSU. She likes to ask questions, challenge existing situations and put art into unusual places. Inspiration for her projects grows out of meeting people where they are at. Collaboration and collective thinking are inherent to her process which is all about learning from and giving back to the people she works with as well as fostering social interactions between people who might not have connected otherwise.

Having volunteered at CRCI for almost two years, Answers Without Words has emerged out of a long term collaboration between members of the Portland State University Art and Social Practice MFA program and a group of very talented and inspiring prisoners, meeting once a week to think about art, work, experiment and create together.