Press Release

Artist Invites Citizens to Examine Capital Punishment in Texas on October 10

September 12, 2018

Houston, TX – San Antonio artist Mark Menjivar has been engaged in projects looking at capital punishment in Texas from diverse perspectives for over five years. For Open Letters, Menjivar has invited prisoners on Texas’ death row to write letters to the public about their experiences and the trauma they and their families have experienced post-conviction.  At the event at the Rothko Chapel, 3900 Yupon Street, on October 10 at 7:00 p.m., attendees will be invited to listen to one of these letters and respond through a facilitated dialogue.  “Capital punishment is a very complex issue that needs to be explored,” said Mark Menjivar. “Often when I tell people I am working on projects related to capital punishment, they ask, “What did they do?” I am trying to shift the conversation from what they did, to what we are doing. This issue affects us all.”

“Open Letters continues the Chapel’s efforts of addressing the expansive impact that the criminal justice system has on our communities by raising awareness, creating a space for reflection and dialogue, and highlighting the role art can play in these important conversations,” added David Leslie, Executive Director of Rothko Chapel. 

Open Letters will have a limited capacity of 40 attendees and has a suggested contribution of $10.00.  Immediately after the program there will be a public reception on the plaza. To register for the program on October 10, visit the Rothko Chapel website at

Open Letters is presented in conjunction with Walls Turned Sideways: Artists Confront the Justice System, an exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) featuring work by artists from across the nation that addresses the criminal justice system, mass incarceration, and the prison-industrial complex. Mark Menjivar has an artwork, DLP, included in the exhibition which is on view through January 6, 2019.

About Rothko Chapel

The Rothko Chapel is open to the public every day of the year at no charge. It is a contemplative space that successfully interconnects art, spirituality, and compassionate action through a broad array of free public programs.  Founded by Houston philanthropists Dominique and John de Menil, the Chapel was dedicated in 1971 as an intimate sanctuary.  Today it stands as a monument to art, spirituality, and human rights. As an independent non-profit, non-governmental organization, the Chapel depends on contributions from foundations and individuals to support its mission of creating a space for contemplation and dialogue on important issues.

About Mark Menjivar

Mark​ ​Menjivar​ ​is​ ​an​ ​artist​ ​and​ ​Assistant​ ​Professor​ ​in​ ​the​ ​School​ ​of​ ​Art​ ​and​ ​Design​ ​at​ ​Texas State​ ​University. ​ ​His​ ​work​ ​explores​ ​diverse​ ​subjects​ ​through​ ​photography, ​ ​archives, ​ ​oral​ ​history and​ ​objects. ​ ​Menjivar​ ​received​ ​a​ ​BA​ ​in​ ​Social​ ​Work​ ​from​ ​Baylor​ ​University​ ​and​ ​an​ ​MFA​ ​in​ ​Social Practice​ ​from​ ​Portland​ ​State​ ​University. He​ ​has​ ​engaged​ ​in​ ​projects​ ​at​ ​venues​ ​including​ ​the​ ​Bemis​ ​Center​ ​for​ ​Contemporary​ ​Art,​ ​The Houston​ ​Center​ ​for​ ​Photography,​ ​The​ ​San​ ​Antonio​ ​Museum​ ​of​ ​Art,​ ​The​ ​Puerto​ ​Rican​ ​Museum of​ ​Art​ ​and​ ​Culture,​ ​Blue​ ​Star​ ​Contemporary​ ​Art​ ​Museum​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Krannert​ ​Art​ ​Museum.​ ​His​ ​work has​ ​been​ ​featured​ ​by​ ​Artforum,​ ​TEDx,​ ​NPR,​ ​The​ ​New​ ​York​ ​Times,​ ​The New​ ​Yorker,​ ​Slate,​ ​Good​ ​Magazine,​ ​The​ ​Village​ ​Voice,​ ​Gastronomica​,​ National​ ​Geographic, and​ ​Orion​ ​Magazine

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