Ex Crucible: The Passion of Incarcerated Artists. Photo © Peter Merts
Photo © Peter Merts

Ex Crucible: The Passion of Incarcerated Artists: Lecture & Book Signing

Photographer and author Peter Merts presents his new book Ex Crucible: The Passion of Incarcerated Artists in a book release, lecture, and book signing at The Image Flow.

Thursday, June 30, 2022, from 6:30–8:30PM

*masks are strongly recommended, but not required.


Photographer Peter Merts has spent over 15 years crisscrossing California and photographing various kinds of art classes in all 36 of California’s state prisons. His newest book, Ex Crucible: The Passion of Incarcerated Artists (Daylight Books, Spring 2022), is an immersive collection of these images, along with essays, a map, and an interview excerpt with Merts sharing more of the project’s origins and context. All this combines to provide a view into the complex layers that inhabit not only the project as a whole, but the prison system, and the people contained within.

It is an ever-present dichotomy throughout these photographs: humans creating and connecting expressively and openly with creative mediums, and the prison facility backdrop that symbolizes different messaging, and often stereotypes in ways that can be dehumanizing.

With its proximity to San Quentin State Prison and its arts programming initiatives, attendees can expect San Quentin teaching artists, volunteers, social justice, and reform advocates to join for this release event.


*Per Public Health Orders in effect for Marin County, masks are strongly recommended, but not required.
People may choose to mask at any time.
We support those who wish to continue to mask indoors, including those who are immunocompromised or otherwise concerned.


 About the Author

Peter Merts

Peter Merts has been a photographer for 40 years, focusing on documentary, portrait, and fine art projects. His work has been published by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, The Huffington Post, Newsweek Online, and the Los Angeles Review of Books, among others.

For the past 15 years, Peter has documented California’s Arts in Corrections program, visiting over 120 art classes in all 36 of California’s adult state prisons. He co-published, with Dr. Larry Brewster, the book Paths of Discovery: Art Practice and Its Impact in California Prisons (now in its 2nd edition).

Peter’s recent photography awards include the 2020 Critical Mass Top 50, and the 2021 CENTER Social Award.

Instagram: @petermerts


About the Publisher

Daylight Media is a non-profit organization dedicated to publishing art and photography books. By exploring the documentary mode along with the more conceptual concerns of fine art, Daylight’s uniquely collectible publications work to revitalize the relationship between art, photography, and the world at large.

Ex Crucible: The Passion of Incarcerated Artists
Photographs and text by Peter Merts
Contributions by Annie Buckley, Rahsaan “New York” Thomas, Kevin D. Sawyer, and Michael Kirchoff

ISBN-13: 9781954119123
136 pages, 86 Color Photographs
8 x 10 inches
List Price: $45 US

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