Prison Landscapes

My husband says that my stories need to be shorter and funnier, but I am not sure how I can tell a quick story about the background on this AMAZING project by my friend, Alyse Edmur…


How cute is she????

Alyse is not only cute, adorable, pinch-able, smart, artsy, and likeable, but she is also the girlfriend of a close friend, Michael Parker, a classmate of mine at Pomona College.  Michael Parker (he is one of those people I have to always address by first and last name) was the hot stud on campus (of the surfer, artsy, maybe never showered crew). Michael Parker is the type of person that you want at YOUR party because he is just so fun, wild, charming, interesting, interested, and hubba hubba good looking.


Sooooo Michael Parker.

So you couldn’t put two better people together than Alyse and Michael Parker. They are just the oh-so-perfect-match-made-in-heaven. You want to take them both and fit them in your pocket to carry around at all times — they are just both so perfectly cute and fun.


I mean, come on, don’t you want to be friends with them?

But this isn’t about their love story.  Instead, it’s about the spectacular and fascinating book just released by Alyse (both Alyse and Michael Parker are talented LA based artists).

prisoner landscapes

Prison Landscapes, published by Four Corners Books, just came out this month. The book is a collection of over 100 images of prison inmates in front of visiting room backdrops in their prisons. The backdrops — artwork themselves — are specifically designed for escapism and self- representation, as the paintings are of tropical beaches, fantastical waterfalls, mountain vistas, and cityscapes. The book includes the letter correspondence between inmates and Alyse, the pictures of the inmates in front of the art, descriptions of how the inmates feel in the images, and pictures of the backdrops themselves. Each page of the book is dreary, heart wrenching, fascinating, and amazing. The book pulls one in to view the inmates as people, not as criminals, and brings a whole new profound meaning to jails, the inmates, and their experiences.


One of the prison landscapes.


Knight in shining armor landscape.

In the words of Alyse: “Prison Landscapes offers viewers a rare opportunity to see America’s incarcerated population, not through the usual lens of criminality, but through the eyes of inmates’ loved ones. The collection was inspired by a photograph I found of myself at age five posing in front of a tropical beach scene while visiting my brother in prison. Since discovering this first portrait in my own family album in 2005, I have invited hundreds of prisoners to send me photographs for inclusion in this collection.”


Some of the inmates’ photographs. So much to look at — their expressions, the backdrops, and their poses.

loved ones

Prisoners with their loved ones. More of a prom shot than a jail shot.

Absolutely a fascinating, crazy, informative, wild, artistic look at the lives of people most tend to ignore.

Alyse photo

The photo that was the seed for this project. A photo of Alyse’s sister, her brother, and her during a visit to her brother’s prison.

Go support Alyse and buy her book online! Huge congratulations and hugs to Alyse and the fascinating up-close-and personal look at American inmates.

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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Josie Girl


  1. this seems like a fascinating book. especially considering the high percentage of americans that are incarcerated.

  2. This is chilling. My brother was in prison as well, and there was totally a backdrop just like the ones above for pictures. I didn’t realize they were in every prison.

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