Photograph from the Humanize the Numbers project, photographed in Michigan prisons

Johnnie Trice, 2015
The Creator

I came to prison with blood on my hands; I will leave with paint on them.

Artist Statement
Humanize the Numbers was an opportunity to express to the public that I am more than the “perp walk” images from over 30 years ago. Those images represented me at my most impulsive, self- centered, irrational and diabolical. This presentation is a small, yet accurate glimpse into the person I am today.

The first image, The Creator, is the declaration of my having evolved from known murderer to known artist. The three collaborative pieces are a representation of my life before I committed the unfortunate crimes that led to my incarceration, the tragic act itself, and my path to understanding why I made those fatal choices. Lonely Pawn is symbolic of my being a black child forced to live in a white world, battling forces greater than myself. 1/11/85 is the date I thought murder was the solution to my life’s problems. Each of those bullets used on that date has cast a long, dark shadow upon so many lives. Art, along with the long and painful path of self-discovery and self-acceptance, has led me to a sense of peace about my past, present and future. I am at the dawn of a wonderful life.

The remaining photos are about me in the here and now.

I am a prisoner on the outside to everyone I cross paths with inside the prison’s walls, yet with my friends beyond the razor wire, they know the person.

The art supplies are my reason to live.

I am totally okay with doing things just a little differently.

The final photo is me unguarded and enjoying the moment! The student had been recently ill, yet still made it to our workshop. I was having a little fun with her!