Interview with Travis Runnels

Before Travis got any kind of feedback of the collaborative art exhibition
„Death Penalty vs. Human Rights (1)” which I mentioned in the post before I sent him an interview to get his thoughts.

Also other death row prisoners from Zambia and the USA participated with art pieces inside the exhibition which was an idea by Travis and me.

The interview was given to some people from different newspaper so do not wonder that I am writing about myself as “an artist from Germany”.

Questions Anja Claudia Pentrop Answers Travis Runnels

You had worked with an artist from Germany to create an art show about the death penalty and human rights. What did that mean to you to be part of that creation and the organziation of the show?
A chance, an opportunity to reach out to people through words and images. It gave me a feeling of purpose that I am being producitve in life and contributing to society in a positve way. Anytime your sitting inside a prison cell and you can be part of something that brings people together and it can possibly give them a different outlook about life or our lifes inside a cell that is a motivation to me to do more and be more than what I am behing the cell door.
Not in my almost 20 years of incarceration have I been apart of something like this in such a way and I am thankful I have had the chance to reflect some of my words and thoughts through images for people to see and read as one.

As a person who is behind bars since many years: How does it effect your daily living on death row to be part of this exhibition?
It effects it in such a way that constantly my mind is always working and thinking of new ideas and ways that I could incorperate a writing that reflects a reality people could realize through words. Even though I can’t instantly put something new or fresh into the exhibition, my mind is still always working because when you become apart of something bigger than yourself or situation you begin to realize just how much of impact you can have even if you cannot have a physical presence.

Travis All the time
Travis Runnels “All The Time”

You had intodruced some friends of you to each other and you are the connection of two artists. One from Denmark and one from Germany. How does that make you feel that you had been able to bring people together?
It makes me feel charged and excited that two friends of mine have been able to meet each other and possibly bring their creative minds together. With that meeting of two minds the possibilies for the future are limitless.

Travis the world changes
Travis Runnels “About Change”

You are not calling yourself an artist but you are surrounded from artists. Do you see any difference between your artist friends and your other friends?
As for being my friend there is no difference between the two. As for as people and how they do things in life there is a slight difference between the two. As for as people and how they do things in life there is a slight difference because of how they express themselves and use their creativity. Artists have a tendency to express themselves in a way that non-artist do not.

All organization for the show needed to be made through mail. We were not able to use emails or phones for our communication what means often one of us had to wait for answers and feedback. Had there been moments when you would have loved faster communication? What is the quality of planning for a long time because „fast communication“ had not been able?
Finding a balance of communication, trust and belief. That is the issue when planning someting via mail with another person. You have to be able to anticipate the other person and let their thinking be a reflection of your own and from there you can kind of grow into each other just as we have done together and at times we would write each other not knowing but yet saying of thinking to do the same thing in different ways of our own. Overcoming the circumstances and not allowing the distance to limit what we can do or achieve together.

Would you do such a project again?
Not only would I do such a project again. I hope to do one again.

Handwritten statement by Travis Runnels about the Death Penalty

How did you spent the day of the exhibition opening while being in your little cell in solitary confinement?
My day went mostly the same as all the other days but I did take some time to lay upon my bed with my hands behing my head and just looking at the ceiling letting my mind travel and imagine people walking around, looking and seeing the different projects, images and words.

Did some art works changed your point of view in some aspects or did they open new ways of thinking to you?
No. My view point were not changed but my view on how to reach or get across to people did change and allowed my mind to grasp the wide range of people art can reach or impact with just a image. I have always been aware of art, paintings and drawings, but I have never had a significant involvement with any aspect of it until now and it is been very revealing to me to get a better understanding that art has a life/pulse all of its own.

How was it for you to get to know how the artists are working (research, decisions for material, forming the idea, creating the art pieces, having the ready art work, getting many pics from behind the scenes which the visitors of an exhibition do never see or get to know)?
I felt unique to be apart of another persons goals, ambitions and energy while they work and it makes you get into the same mood of getting things done and working with an effort that can reflect in the work. When I was witnessing someone putting everything of themselves into their work it gave me strength and motivation to take my writing to another step and be more better in the words I think of to reflect upon this art. It was a feeling of team work of having the same goal in mind of each other and pushing each other to be better and better….

“Pain in a mirror”

What else did this exhibition project made with you?
It made many things with me. A partner of future projects. It made our friendship become more close at the same time of working It made me believe in art a lot more. It made me know 100% that living enviroment will not limit what you want to do if you believe in yourself strong enough.

To get the photos of this first exhibition follow my facebook page


  1. He looks so young. I was surprised to read he had been inside already for 20 years. I was going to reblog this on Jamie’s page but you don’t have the button for it. Wow the button just popped up after I shared this to other sm.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on My Name is Jamie. My Life in Prison and commented:
    It’s good to have something positive to post in the middle of so many things that need to be changed in the prison system. I meet the author of this blog through Armando, an inmate I’ve written about before who is on death row in Ca. He is also an artist and he knew Anna Claudia Pentrop, who lives in Germany. Coincidentally, she and I connected through Jamie’s facebook page – jamielifeinprison because she saw a post I had written about Armando. It’s amazing how small the world is.

    She has given artists behind bars a platform to show their work. A person, any person, no matter what they have done isn’t defined by that action as being all they are. An artist is still an artist. A writer is still a writer, a father is still a father. Being in a prison for life is something you and I could never understand. Something wrong may have been committed but there is an entire person who has done many other things that make up who they are. If their punishment is life in prison then that is their punishment. I don’t believe in adding inhumane treatment out of vengeance if they have remorse. They have already been given the ultimate loss – their life was taken away.

    So let the artist leave a legacy and leave a positive footprint in the sand.

    Liked by 1 person

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