Voice & Art
Spending nearly a decade on Death Row, Rickey has studied and taught himself everything he knows about creating art with very limited access to materials. He expresses himself through art to show the embracive barriers in the confines of the mind. Rickey uses his art as a conduit for activism, especially against the conditions on Death Row; speaking loudly about the injustice that exists in the prison. For inquires to display Rickey’s art, please contact us.
O.G’s Perspective is a compilation of short stories written by Rickey, focusing on a variety of topics that he is passionate about. We invite you to explore Rickey’s thoughts and ideas through these short stories. Rickey openly invites dialogue for anyone who would like to build with him on these topics further, contact Rickey.
“when I see y’all, I see the man I was. I know what it’s like to be ‘thuggin’ and lovin’ it’; to feel like I’m spiraling out of control; to hit rock bottom and be in need of a helping hand and true guidance, only to be ignored, feared and/or led further astray by the “old heads” in the hood.”
“To invest in a community Vince, you have to provide them with something, or a skill, that will help them sustain themselves, or that will put them in position to secure their futures. Both of these ventures would do both, by providing food, jobs and/or skills that will take them to the next level.”
Open Letter Project
Open Letters is an ongoing project, led by fellow artist, Mark Menjivar, that engages communities in dialogue around capital punishment. Participants are invited to respond to letters written by people on death row that speak about their experiences and the trauma they and their families have faced post-conviction. The project debuted at the Rothko Chapel in Houston, TX. Mark created a book out of the initial community experience documenting the group engagement that followed Mark’s presentation of a letter written by Rickey.
Rickey was invited to participate in an exhibit that featured paintings, photograms, videos, books, and installation works from himself and fellow artist, Mark Menjivar. Mark and Rickey have been working collaboratively since 2016 as Rickey fights for his freedom from Texas' Death Row.
'These Walls', featured in Austin, TX at Prizer Arts and Letters from July 23 - August 20, 2022, focused on capital punishment in an artistic approach.
A conversation about death penalty abolition and social practice – Mark Menjivar
As part of an exciting project, a seven page booklet featuring Rickey in a conversation about death penalty abolition and social practice was recently printed by Mark Menjivar. Erin Segal, publisher at Thick Press, was also in conversation with artist Mark Menjivar about social practice (aka socially engaged art) and anti-death penalty activism, in an online piece you can find at the link below. Thick Press and Mark are collaborating with Rickey on the booklet entitled “Holding Vigil”.
Click here to buy the booklet ($1)
Click here to read the full text on glasstire.com, a Texas visual arts platfor
‘Holding Vigil’ by Rickey D. Cummings, Jr.
While I’m not sure what will come of these words, I felt compelled to chronicle my day as I vigil for a man I’ve gotten cool with over the years here on Texas Death Row. If anything, it’s my hope that I’ll be able to give them to him sometime in the near future; which would mean that he received a last-minute reprieve from Gov. Greg Abbot, unfortunately though, knowing the Governor’s record, that doesn’t seem likely. If nothing else though, I’m an optimist. So I’m holding out hope.
Let me back up. Today, May 19, 2021, if the state of Texas has its way Quintin ‘GQ’ Jones will be legally, but inhumanely, murdered by the state of Texas by way of lethal injection. Since I arrived on TX Death Row in November of 2012, I’ve lost count of how many people who have been murdered by the State; it’s been so many that one would think that I would become numb to seeing men take their last walk off the pod, to & from their last visit w/ loved ones or loaded onto the transport van so they can be taken to the ‘death house’ in Huntsville, TX. But I’m not. How could I feel ‘numb’ when such an inhumane practice is used to end the life of another human being? How can I feel ‘numb’ when I know that there’s a chance that someone I have broken bread, shared stories, and held mutual respect with/for won’t be here tomorrow. Nah, the anger, disgust, and pain that I feel won’t allow me to feel ‘numb’; I do feel helpless, though. Because at the end of the day, there’s absolutely nothing I can do to save his life.
What I was able to do though, was send him a message yesterday letting him know that as he takes his last walk to and from visitation, surrounded by all the Administration and Ranking officers – The Wardens, Majors, Captains – the Security response team and nurses, I’ll be there holding vigil, and the knocking he’ll hear on the window will be my way of letting him know that somebody who is FOR him is with him as he takes that walk, he should do so with his head up & chest out. The gesture is small, but if I was in his shoes, I’d want somebody doing the same for me, if nothing else, it would boost my morale some, and show the guards that my (his) life matters to somebody here.
Normally, I don’t look out the window in this cage, which is located about 4 inches from the ceiling and is a horizontal ‘strip’ that’s 3inches tall & 4 ft. wide…