NEWS: Lyn Hagan: The Mexican Mafia and Me @ Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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A childhood enthusiasm for pen pal exchanges fused with a strong belief against the death penalty, directed Lyn Hagan to write to George Anthony ‘Tony’ Hernandez: an intelligent and articulate man, guilty of murder, on Death Row in San Quentin.  Though seeking a more relaxing project after her previous work Porculpa (which involved filming a cat in zero gravity) the story of Tony’s life, and in particular his romantic affair with a Sheriff’s deputy Angela Parks, drew Hagan into the idea of creating artwork about this intense world.

Firstly, in 2013, she collaborated to create an opera from the correspondence surrounding the case. Now, she has realised an exhibition focussing more on Tony and his victim, Jorge Ortiz. It contains embroidery incorporating the content of letters from approximately 70 women who would write emphatically to Tony, with messages evidencing hybristophilia (people who are aroused by those who have committed an outrageous crime). There is also video footage of Hagan’s conversations with the District and Prosecuting Attorney. Hagan considers embroidery a “soft, quite feminine art form”, and finds it an intriguing juxtaposition with which to articulate Tony’s prison existence which is “gritty and masculine”. This exhibition will ​offer a rare chance to examine the details of a life challenged by a culture far from ones that form in the North East of England. Using various skills and mediums to tell the stories surrounding this life, Hagan offers a way to get closer to a man surrounded with complicated ethical issues without our rationality being compromised by fear.

Lyn Hagan: The Mexican Mafia & Me is at Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle from Saturday 3rd October until Sunday 31st January.

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