a newspaper man adjusts his pen

Thursday, March 11, 2010

He used to be Curtis Kyles

By Scott Beveridge

PITTSBURGH, Pa. – Curtis Kyles had been a young man of patience before a killer framed him in the murder of a woman in Louisiana.

Exonerated after spending 14 years in prison, Kyles head still swirls with fear and shame, and it wanders in many directions, so his feelings are expressed in art.

“Now I don’t even know who Curtis Kyles is,” the man’s words peer from the background of his portrait by Pittsburgh artist Daniel Bolick.

The painting of Kyles is included in an exhibit of Bolick’s “Resurrected” series on display at David Lawrence Hall lobby at Point Park University. The paintings feature men who were freed with the help of innocence projects after being wrongly sentenced to death or life in prison.

“You could not write fiction as astounding as what these men’s realities are,” Bolick stated. “Their life experiences had to show on their faces.”

And Bolick captures their sadness brilliantly in powerful, bold colors, and especially in the use of controlled runs of paint. The paint spills off foreheads, around eye crevices and down checks as if it cries with the subjects.

It’s impossible to look at these paintings without absorbing some of the pain these men feel. No mere apology would seem to be enough to erase these wrongs.

As for Kyles, the prosecution in the Orleans Parish homicide withheld evidence from the defense that could have cleared him of the murder. The killer was later murdered after having confessed to the slaying to a number of people.

Prosecutors still tried Kyles three more times, even after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his conviction. Eventually he was released in 1998 when the local district attorney dropped the case.

It’s no wonder the subject of the painting sobs, or makes such statements as, “I used to be Curtis Kyles.”

The exhibit sponsored by the Innocence Institute of Point Park University ends April 2.

(Editor's note: After this post, Kyles was implicated in another homicide. Our sympathies go out to the victims in that case. This blog does not accept negative comments, nor does it endorse criminals. This posting was simply a review of an art exhibit)

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