A Biddeford exhibit combines portraits of inmates with letters they wrote to their younger selves.By David Hench of the Portland Press Herald. From the article:

Wesley Knight has some advice for his younger self: “You have choices in life and if you reach out to the people that really love and care about you I promise you won’t be a failure as I was.”

A near life-size portrait of Knight, who was convicted of murder, stares out at the reader from the midst of his handwritten words, his eyes a flat blue that matches his prison shirt.

Knight is one of a dozen inmates at the Maine State Prison who participated in an exercise in which they wrote letters to their younger selves. The letters, filled with self-recrimination, were then superimposed over photographic portraits of each inmate.

The portraits are part of an exhibit now on display at the Engine gallery at 265 Main St. in Biddeford.

“Reflect: Convicts’ Letters to Their Younger Selves” was created by Trent Bell, a commercial photographer based in Biddeford who specializes in architectural photography.

Bell, 37, said he wanted to do a project that would have more of a social component than his commercial work.

He said the exhibit does not seek to glorify the convicts or minimize their crimes, but may offer viewers lessons that could prevent some future victims’ suffering.

“These guys have done really bad things. … These guys aren’t doing time they don’t deserve,” Bell said. “If you don’t learn from it, it truly is a failure. If you can learn from it, there are some redeeming features.”

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