This month, Nostos Gallery hosted Gifts: Unit 2 (part 3), an exhibition of works made by or in collaboration with prisoners living in Unit 2 (the death row unit) of the Riverbend Maximum Security Institution in Northwest Nashville.
This exhibition was made up entirely of gifts for visitors to the gallery during opening night. These objects—many knitted, many tooled in leather, many rendered in watercolor, pastel, or colored pencil—represent an effort by these prisoners to reach out from a social and political void using the modest tools they have at their disposal. Their gesture raises the possibility that community—a community that is conjured and sustained through the gift—might extend beyond the walls of prison. Their exhibition suggests that it might be possible, in spite of everything, to bring such a community into existence.