Pete Brook is a freelance writer and curator interested in social justice and the politics of visual culture. He writes and edits Prison Photography, a website that analyzes imagery produced within, and about, prisons, with a focus on the American prison industrial complex. Prison Photography has been recognized as one of the best photography blogs by LIFE.com, The British Journal of Photography and The Daily Beast.
Pete holds masters degrees in Art History (University of St Andrews) and Art Gallery and Museum Studies (University of Manchester). Among his artistic and activist pursuits, Pete has lectured internationally on the topic of photography, taught art in prisons, volunteered with Books To Prisoners and served as a board member with University Beyond Bars, a prison college education non-profit. His work has been featured by The New York Times, The British Journal of Photography, Kickstarter, Featureshoot, Seattle Weekly and Dvafoto.
He has curated multiple shows including, Non Sufficient Funds, Vermillion Gallery, Seattle, WA (Apr 2010); Cruel and Unusual, Noorderlicht Gallery, Holland (Feb-Apr 2012) which later traveled to Amsterdam, New York, Sydney and Ireland; The Depository Of Unwanted Photographs, Photoville, New York (Sept. 2013); Seen But Not Heard, Kulturni Centar Belgrada, Belgrade, Serbia (Dec, 2013); and Status Update, Catchlight/SOMArts (Nov, 2015).
Pete is an Editor and Writer for Vantage, the Medium photography blog. Pete lives in San Francisco, CA.
Prison Obscura is my first solo curatorial effort; as such, I could not have done it without the help of many people. Firstly, thanks to my parents for encouraging independent thinking, teaching compassion and supporting my efforts unconditionally. Thanks to Matthew Seamus Callinan for extending the invite to share my ideas with the Haverford community and for keeping me honest and on track throughout the preparations for Prison Obscura.
Sincere gratitude to Josh Begley, Steve Davis, Alyse Emdur, Robert Gumpert, Paul Rucker, Mark Strandquist and Kristen S. Wilkins for their enthusiasm toward the concept and then the legwork to get works prepared. You are all practitioners that are forwarding conversations on photography and its uses and doing so in a way that is meaningfully engaged with our world.
Thanks to Sarah Fontaine for feedback on early essay drafts and for the constant to-and-fro of ideas on politics, visuals and strategy. My gratitude to Laura McGrane and James Weissinger for very thoughtful editing and for reining in the essay word count where I could not! Thanks to Pia Chakraverti-Wuerthwein for her warm welcome, exhibition-title brainstorming, installation-planning and more. Thank you to Michael Rushmore for the creation of the installation video. Ellen Gould did a mighty lovely job with the catalogue design.
My appreciation goes to Kristin Lindgren, Janice Lion, Barb Toews, and John Muse for help shaping Prison Obscura’s core ideas and efforts in coordinating programming attached to the exhibition. Additional thanks to Emily Bock, Jody Cohen, Ann Dalke, Emily Dix, Thomas Devaney, Paul Farber, Ross Lerner, Vita Litvak, Michael Riccio, and the students of Haverford House and Rethink Incarceration for their support and engagement.
Thanks to Robyn Buseman, Eric Okdeh, and the staff and volunteers at the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program for coordinating the production of the mural for the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery space. And, of course thanks to the men at SCI Graterford for the time, design, and painting skills that went into making the mural.
Thanks to the administrative staff of SCI Graterford including Norma Hicks, Gerald Galinski, Gary Olinger, Linda Shade, and Tony Wolfe.
Thanks to Tom W Bonner, Emily Cronin, Kerry Nelson and the student assistants at the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities. Thanks also to the staff and student assistants of the Center for Peace and Global Citizenship for their support.
Thanks to all the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery staff, Jeremiah Misfeldt and the Equivocal crew, and Haverford College’s Business, Central Receiving, Communications, Dining Services, Housekeeping, and Purchasing departments.