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Melissa Walter: 'Smallest of Places'

From the museum:
"In Smallest of Places, my work considers the development of DNA analysis in relation to forensic science—the application of science to criminal and civil laws. The use of DNA analysis, invented in the 1980s, has led to the exoneration of hundreds of people incarcerated for crimes they did not commit—sometimes decades after being found guilty. It has also exonerated thousands more, removing people from suspect lists before even being charged.

The subject raises the specter of rampant issues in the United States: unreliable eyewitness accounts, police coercion, and inadequate legal representation, as well as the innocent people who become suspects, or are even convicted, because of these systemic problems. While DNA analysis is not useful in all cases, it is a tool that can continue to push our legal system toward balance and equity. Yet there is still much more work to be done in order to achieve a truly just system.

This exhibition explores the three main stages in the development of DNA analysis used to process criminal evidence, which began in the 1990s. The works provide an abstracted visual interpretation of elements in these processes. The mark-making techniques move from visceral to more precise, reflecting the evolution in accuracy as the technology has developed. However, evidence of labor remains, which suggests the human fallibility that continues to exist in the field, no matter how far it has advanced.

Smallest of Places provides a glimpse into the science behind these processes and, ultimately, cultivates conversation around equity in the criminal justice system."

–Artist Melissa Walter

Exhibition Celebration: Saturday, September 18, 2021

Thursday–Sunday from 11:00am–12:00pm
followed by public access until 5:00pm Thursday–Saturday
and until 4:00pm on Sunday.

Dates and times of events are subject to change without notice. Always check the event organizer's website for the most updated schedule before attending. Check local COVID-19 restrictions and updates.

Photo of Melissa Walter's charcoal on paper work, "Autora...

Above: Photo of Melissa Walter's charcoal on paper work, "Autoradiogram 002," courtesy of Oceanside Museum of Art.


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