Joliet Prison Photo Exhibit Showcases Work of Student

Joliet Prison Photo Exhibit Showcases Work of Lewis University Student

Published: January 25, 2016.

What to do with an architecturally and culturally significant prison that has been unused for over a decade? This is the question at the heart of two exhibits that are coming to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Gaylord Building.

“Unlocking the Past: Larissa Barnat’s Joliet Prison Photographs” is the first exhibit on the third floor of the Gaylord Building, 200 W. 8th Street, Lockport. An opening reception for the exhibit is 4-6 p.m. Feb. 4.

“Photographing The Old Joliet Prison makes me appreciate the structure and history of older buildings. I am intrigued by their vintage aesthetic. When asked to photograph the prison, I was appalled to learn that anyone would want to tear down these magnificent buildings,” Larissa Barnat said.

The Burbank, Ill., resident is currently studying Painting and Computer Graphic Design at Lewis University. She described, “In my photos, I tried to document the delicately handmade detail along with the natural beauty growing onto it, contrasted by the strength and solidity of the architecture. I felt as though nature combined with the building have a purpose and work together harmoniously.”

Dennis H. Cremin, professor of history and director of the Lewis University History Center, said, “Larissa is already an award-winning photographer. Her images capture the stories of The Old Joliet Prison. Her images provide a way to dream about of these building, which have been unused for the past decade.”

The second exhibit will open in March on the second floor of the Gaylord Building. It will address several themes, such as the history of the prison, models of preservation, and the prison in popular culture.

The Gaylord Building and the Lewis University History Center are among the lead partners working on these exhibits. Visit for more information on the opening reception or exhibits.

Lewis University is a Catholic university in the Lasallian tradition offering distinctive undergraduate and graduate programs to nearly 7,000 traditional and adult students. Lewis offers multiple campus locations, online degree programs, and a variety of formats that provide accessibility and convenience to a growing student population. Sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Lewis prepares intellectually engaged, ethically grounded, globally connected, and socially responsible graduates. The seventh largest private not-for-profit university in Illinois, Lewis has been nationally recognized by The Princeton Review and U.S. News & World Report. Visit for further information.

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