There are 2.2 million people in jail in the U.S. More than 80,000 of those are in solitary confinement. New Orleans native Herman Wallace has been there longer than anyone.
In 1972, Herman was serving a 25-year sentence for bank robbery when he was accused of murdering an Angola Prison guard and immediately thrown into solitary. Many
believed he was wrongfully convicted. Then in 2001 he received a letter from art student Jackie Sumell, who posed the provocative question: “What kind of house does a man who has lived in a six-foot-by-nine-foot cell for over 30 years dream of?”
An inspired creative dialogue led to a collaborative art project: “The House That Herman Built.” The exhibition has brought thousands of gallery visitors around the world face-to-face with the harsh realities of the American prison system.
But as Herman’s House reveals, the exhibition is just the first step. Their journey takes an unpredictable turn when Herman asks Jackie to make his dream a
reality. As her own finances dwindle, Jackie wonders if she will ever succeed. Meanwhile, the Louisiana courts consider Herman’s latest appeal. Along the way we
meet former “stick-up kid” Michael Musser; Herman’s sister Vickie, a loyal and tireless supporter; and former long-term solitary inmate and fellow Black Panther activist Robert King.
With compassion and meaningful artistry, Herman’s House takes us inside the lives and imaginations of two unforgettable characters—forging a friendship and building a dream in the struggle to end the “cruel and unusual punishment” of long-term solitary confinement.