Painting of the Day

23 Jan



Drew Whitley. by Daniel Bolick (born c. 1951). Acrylic, latex, and spraypaint on canvas, c. 2011.

Notes from

Drew spent eighteen years in the Pennsylvania State Correctional Institution for a crime he did not commit. Drew was sentenced to life imprisonment for second degree murder in the 1988 shooting death of Noreen Malloy at a McDonald’s restaurant near Kennywood Park. The perpetrator, who wore a trench coat, stocking mask and a felt hat, could not be identified by any of the witnesses. Police eventually found a witness who said, an hour after Ms. Malloy’s killing, that he looked directly at the assailant from a distance of three feet but did not know who he was. Twenty-six hours later, after repeated interrogations, the witness named Drew as the killer. He said he recognized him by his voice and the way he walked. His story contradicted so much evidence collected in the aftermath of the Malloy killing that police did not immediately file charges against Drew. Hair and fingerprints collected at the scene did not match and DNA testing was not available at the time. However, Drew was jailed the next day on a technical parole violation. Six months later, Gary Starr, a double murderer on death row said that while in prison Drew had confessed to the Malloy killing even though penitentiary records show that Mr. Starr was isolated on death row and would not have access to Drew at the prison. Within a year of Drew’s trial, Mr. Starr’s death sentence was reduced to life in prison. DNA testing came into widespread use in the 90’s and after a six-year fight Drew was granted DNA testing but police officials said they lost all but two of the hairs found in the physical evidence from the crime scene. They said the rest of the evidence had been lost in a flood at the County Police headquarters in the mid 1990’s. In 2003, county police found the missing hair samples. In 2006 DNA profiling proved that the hair samples did not match Drew Whitley and he was exonerated. Drew left prison with less than one hundred dollars from working in the prison laundry. Since his exoneration, Drew has not had much luck finding work, but is enjoying his freedom.

Convicted: 1988

Exonerated: 2006

 My comments:

This was one of the artists I found in my research of artists who deal with injustice for my internship week. It was amazing how well this artist’s work fit with the Dreyfuss affair theme of the upcoming exhibition for which I was doing the research, to find contemporary artists that would complement the Dreyfuss affair exhibition that the Gershman Y was planning to have soon. 

The stories of the people portrayed by Bolick are incredibly captivating in the worse way, like a horrible accident that you just can’t stop staring at. Although his repetition of the same basic formula for composing each portrait becomes a bit monotonous and doesn’t reveal as much of the individuality of each subject as I would have preferred, Bolick does do an excellent job at captivating the agonizing boredom and soul-stabbing frustration that each of these wrongfully convicted people must have felt during their years, often decades, in prison. 


One Response to “Painting of the Day”

  1. tara January 24, 2013 at 1:47 am #

    what a tragedy.

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