In 2003, New York-based artist Jackie Sumell visited Herman Wallace, prisoner No. 76759 at Louisiana's State Penitentiary and a man who, at the time, had been held in solitary confinement for three decades, to ask him one question: what kind of house does a man who has spent an adult's lifetime in a six-by-nine-foot box dream of living in? The conversation sparked a partnership and a project, and The House That Herman Built has since picked up speed, what with a PBS documentary and, perhaps more importantly, relevance in a steaming political climate that's asking questions about the humaneness of solitary confinement. Ten years later, Sumell has produced CAD renderings for Wallace's dream digs, and, with a worldwide community of support, is hoping to build it—and move him in, of course—in real life.
On Wallace's list: a garden with carnations, gardenias, and tulips; a swimming pool; yellow kitchen walls; and a king-sized bed. Oh, and a hot tub that measures exactly six feet by nine feet. "This is definitely Herman's house. I've never rejected any of his designs," Sumell tells the site Mother Jones. "I mean, I'd tease him. I'd be like, 'Really? You want shag carpets? It's not the '70s anymore.'" (Wallace was arrested for armed robbery in 1971.)
There's also adirondack chairs by the pool (which boasts an image of a black panther), a bearskin bed covering, a bar (with a bottle of Johnny Walker Red Label), a chandelier hanging from a black mirrored ceiling, a river-rock fireplace in the master bedroom, full bookshelves in the living area, and a small vase of flowers on the dining room table. Have a look:
Renderings via The House That Herman Built
More info about The House That Herman Built, right this way.
· The House That Herman Built [official site]
· Will This Prisoner Die in Solitary Confinement or in His Dream House? [Mother Jones]