Carnegie Mellon Designers Publish Artwork and Writing
Of Pennsylvania's Death Row Prisoners
PITTSBURGH—Carnegie Mellon University alumnae Kristen Lukiewski and Reina Takahashi, December 2008 graduates, have self-published "Thirty-Four Kites," a collection of artwork and writing from Pennsylvania's death row prisoners. The title derives from the prison term "kite" — slang for a letter written to or from an inmate.
"Everyone has something to say. Everyone has something more to them; everyone has a hidden talent, a good side. And everyone needs a voice," Lukiewski said. The designers said the project was conceived in hopes of reaching and providing a voice to what they consider an almost-totally isolated population.
While students at Carnegie Mellon, Lukiewski and Takahashi sent letters to death row inmates in three of Pennsylvania's prisons requesting their participation in the project, 13 inmates returned artwork, poetry, prose and personal correspondence. The book contains selections from each inmate with subject matter ranging from memories of the past to specters of executions, from race to religion and hopes to despair.
The project was funded by the Carnegie Mellon English Department's Charles C. Dawe Memorial award and guided by Carnegie Mellon professors Jane Bernstein, Dave Demarest and Jim Daniels. Lukiewski now holds a bachelors degree in Communication Design and Professional & Technical Writing and Takahashi in Communication Design.