click here to read William's First Letter to IFUC

The Escape Artist: Shadowed Views from the Private World of William Noguera

William Noguera is an artist unparalleled in artistic vision and creative tenacity. From the confines of his 4x10 foot cell on Death Row at the notorious San Quentin State Prison, down on his knees, hunched over a makeshift easel erected from his steel mattress frame, he crafts painstaking canvases of chilling beauty and great emotional depth. A personal tragedy when he was eighteen led him to be convicted and sentenced to death in what Robert Bryan, Mr. Noguera's defense attorney, calls “a travesty of justice.” Mr. Bryan, who specializes in death penalty litigation, is the former Chairperson of the Washington-based National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty, with which he has been closely associated since 1987. In 2003 Robert became the lead attorney for Mumia Abu-Jamal federally. Since 1994 Robert has been the legal commentator for ABC television in San Francisco, and he has debated and lectured on the death penalty at various universities. Please follow this link for an extensive bio of Mr. Bryan's legendary career.

Even though William was fated to live on Death Row, it is the story of transcendence and rehabilitation through art that is at the inspirational heart of the matter. Mr. Noguera is a completely self-taught artist; he has been imprisoned since 1983. During an enforced 27 day stay in solitary confinement, Mr. Noguera began to draw on the walls of his cell, and has focused on this means of expression ever since to escape the confines of his difficult circumstances. He took up residence on Death Row in San Quentin on February 11 th , 1988 and has never wavered from his commitment to speak to those who are free through his infinitely shaded visions. He is so immersed in his pen and ink alternative universe that every night, he dreams only in black and white, to be documented later in his waking hours. He describes his artistic style as “hyper-realistic, monochromatic neo-cubism in ink stippling.” Through the careful placement of thousands of individual black dots, dramatic images rise to life as visual poetry; please follow this link to view more of William's work: Each piece requires hundreds of hours for completion. Often, those condemned to death find religion as a comfort, but William has found art to be his salvation and redemption, every bit as powerful as the strength he draws from his Colombian culture and Latino heritage.

In 2004, Mr. Noguera contacted the Institute for help in making his art known to the world (see William's original letter to us here). Upon seeing his work, we became convinced that he is a creator of the first rank. For the past 17 years, the Institute For Unpopular Culture has been in the forefront of presenting art, music, performance, and film of the highest quality by geniuses not available through traditional channels. David Ferguson, the founder and Executive Director of the Institute For Unpopular Culture, has been an international outsider-culture impresario since the 1970s. Through his seminal punk record label CD Presents, Ltd., (founded in 1978) David produced, managed, and directed the careers of musicians like Henry Rollins, Billy Bragg, Sex Pistols/ Public Image Ltd, and currently, Punk Rock Orchestra . David also operated a lecture agency in the 1970s which represented the Black Panther Party, JoAnn Little, and other notable dissenters. During Mr. Ferguson's cultural career, he discovered both Jean-Michel Basquiat and Barry McGee aka “Twist,” two contemporary legends of visual art. He strongly feels that Mr. Noguera deserves equal billing with these two great rebel iconoclasts.

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To contact to Mr. Noguera about his work, you may send a letter to:

William A. Noguera #3/EB/77
P.O. Box D-77200
San Quentin, CA 94964

*Please note that NOTHING other than letters can be sent via snail mail, and it may take up to three weeks for him to receive them