Martin Schoeller Death Row Exonerees

Martin Schoeller

Death Row Exonerees

This exhibition consists of ten moving, digital portraits of individuals who share their stories of how they were convicted and sentenced to death row for crimes they did not commit. Schoeller collaborated with Witness To Innocence, a non-profit led by exonerated death row survivors who work to abolish the death penalty in the United States.

This exhibition consists of ten moving, digital portraits of individuals who share their stories of how they were convicted and sentenced to death row for crimes they did not commit. Schoeller collaborated with Witness To Innocence, a non-profit led by exonerated death row survivors who work to abolish the death penalty in the United States.

Schoeller is known for his close-up, portrait-style photography and photographs of celebrities and public figures including Barack Obama, Angelina Jolie, Rihanna, Oprah, Jay-Z, and Willie Nelson. He is also known for his work in commercial photography – including the iconic portrait of Colin Kaepernick for Nike’s campaign commemorating the 30th anniversary of “Just Do It.”

Each work in the exhibition will be presented as a close-up style video portrait of the exoneree while their interview with Schoeller about their experience on death row plays out loud. The accompanying wall texts will include a statement by each sitter, along with statistics regarding the inequalities of the American justice system.

This is the first time this series will be shown in the United States.

“I have been living in the U.S. for 25 years and, as a German national raised in the shadow of the Nazi regime, remain appalled by state-sponsored murder. In this series I partnered with Witness to Innocence, the organization founded by activist Sister Helen Prejean and death row exoneree, Ray Krone. As they fight to abolish the death penalty in the U.S. and to shine a harsh light on the profound, damning flaws in the ways these laws are applied, 170 women and men that were sentenced to die have been exonerated.”

–Martin Schoeller

Witness to Innocence (WTI) is the only national organization in the United States composed of and led by exonerated death row survivors and their family members. The mission of WTI is to abolish the death penalty by empowering exonerated death row survivors and their loved ones to become effective leaders in the abolition movement. WTI actively challenges political leaders and the public to grapple with the reality of a fatally flawed criminal justice system that sends innocent people to death row. WTI also seeks ways to support death row survivors and their loved ones as they confront the challenges of life after exoneration.