A long-distance friendship developed over a decade of correspondence leads to the first solo exhibit in New York for artist Jamie Diaz, a transgender woman who sits a thousand miles away in a Texas men’s prison.
Jamie Diaz is a 64-year-old transgender woman serving a life sentence in a men’s prison in Texas. Jamie has spent nearly three decades being sexually harassed and assaulted. Despite the cruelty of her environment and denial of her humanity, Jamie has found a way to express herself.
Using the schoolkids watercolor kits available in the prison commissary and brushes she fashions from her own hair, Jamie creates bold and graphic paintings awash in color and symbolism. Many of them are self-portraits depicting herself as a free and proud trans woman. Pain, transformation, and liberation are common themes in her work. The colorful paintings are sent out of the prison to her friend Gabriel Joffe 1,800 miles away in Boston.
Gabriel volunteers at Black and Pink, a non-profit that supports incarcerated trans people through a pen pal program. Gabriel, who is a non-binary trans person, had received a letter from Jamie that included intricate illustrations and felt compelled to respond. Ten years and hundreds of letters later, a deep and profound friendship has formed between them which has dramatically altered both of their lives.
With Gabriel’s help, Jamie will have her first solo art show at a gallery in New York City in Fall 2022, a show Jamie can only attend in spirit.
Jamie’s story is one of transformation and transcendence. It is a story of a deep and abiding friendship with a person she has never touched. It is a story of art declaring life.
Director Karla Murthy
Karla is a director and Emmy-nominated producer and has been working on news documentaries for over 15 years. She has been a staff producer, shooter and correspondent for several news programs on public television, most recently for PBS NewsHour Weekend. Her award-winning work was described in the Columbia Journalism Review as “compelling, informative and compassionate.” Her directorial debut, the feature documentary The Place That Makes Us screened at numerous film festivals was nationally broadcast in 2021 on WORLD Channel’s acclaimed documentary series America ReFramed and PBS platforms.
Karla is of Filipino and South Asian descent and grew up in Texas. She graduated from Oberlin College, is an alum of the Third World Newsreel Workshop, and the Documentary Institute at Antioch College in Ohio. Karla is a member of Brown Girls Doc Mafia and Film Fatales.
Andrew Fredericks has been a documentary filmmaker for more than thirty years. He has collaborated with preeminent journalist Bill Moyers on a host of documentaries. His work also includes projects with filmmakers Alex Gibney, Tom Spain and Abigail Disney. He edited and co-wrote the award winning, I Came to Testify, from the highly acclaimed PBS Women War and Peace series and Looks Like Laury, Sounds Like Laury, named one of the top ten television documentaries of 2015 by the New York Times. More recently, Andrew edited the Emmy Award winning Armor of Light, John Leguizamo’s Road to Broadway, and produced and edited the award-winning documentary, 3212 Un-Redacted.
His current independent projects include directing Fancy Work, a documentary short examining masculinity and gender roles through the lens of men who needlepoint, and The Last Kid Picked, profiling the life of renegade gay artist, Bernard Perlin. Andrew is an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of Journalism.
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