Dr. William Kimberlin, a psychology professor at Lorain County Community College and clinical psychologist, aims to continue sharing his experiences with death row inmates in several of his upcoming projects.
After the success of his first novel, “Watch Me Die”, a compilation of the lessons he’s learned from Ohio’s death row, Kimberlin now feels compelled to educate the public on another aspect of his findings; the artwork of death row inmates. The art book, titled “Killer Art”, will likely focus on artwork from 12 of the most fascinating and notorious killers who have sent Kimberlin art over the years, and will contain background information on each inmate.
Since he first penned “Watch Me Die”, Kimberlin has broadened his research on death row inmates to included various other death rows across the country. Unlike “Watch Me Die”, “Killer Art” will be a large book featuring artwork, not only from Ohio inmates, but Florida, Nevada, and California as well.
Currently, the plan is to include exclusive art sent to Kimberlin by Dennis Lynn Rader, who earned his nickname as the BTK Killer for binding, torturing, and killing 10 people. “Killer
Art” will also include work from Lisa Marie Montgomery, a federal death row inmate found guilty of cutting an unborn child from its mother’s womb, and Phillip Carl Jablonski, who was convicted of viciously murdering five people.
The title of his latest book was chosen to represent a play on the word ‘killer’ and the dual meaning behind the inmates’ attractive artwork, Kimberlin said.
“The title can mean two different things and every picture can mean two different things,” said Kimberlin. “What you see isn’t always what you’re getting with death row artwork.”
The art is not only ‘killer’ to look at, but the people that created those beautiful pieces of work are also responsible for brutally murdering another human being, said Kimberlin. While the book will focus on the artwork of death row inmates, Kimberlin doesn’t wish to glorify them. Instead, he seeks to expose the misleading intentions behind the art and remind the reader why those inmates are waiting to die on death row.
“I want people to see that while there might be some talent on death row, they cannot forget that with every stroke of that brush, or whatever medium that hand is utilizing, has killed a lot of people,” said Kimberlin. “Before they put that brush to canvas, that same hand was taking a knife to the throat, or a gun to someone’s head.”
With the publication of “Killer Art”, Kimberlin seeks to shatter the perpetuating myth that the aesthetically pleasing art created by death row inmates indicates that they’re remorseful for what they’ve done, or have changed for the better. After years of interacting and interviewing these inmates, Kimberlin wants people to understand that they are no more sorry about what they’ve done than when they first arrived on death row. The aim is to educate the public to not be fooled by how inmates portray themselves on social media and the internet, according to Kimberlin.
“I want people to see through the art and learn about these inmates, to show how they can manipulate people even through their art,” said Kimberlin. The purpose behind the pleasant nature scenes depicted in death row artwork is to throw off the public and change how people perceive them, Kimberlin added.
Serial killer Charles Ng regularly sends him origami, which serves as a reminder of just how meticulous and cunning death row inmates are. Every time Kimberlin looks at the delicately folded paper shapes, they remind him that Ng put every bit of that diligent effort into murdering at least 11 people.
In addition to putting together “Killer Art”, Kimberlin is also in talks to be a part of a couple different documentaries about death row and death row inmates. The project’s producers are also aiming to include the insight of former FBI agents Roy Cavan and Paul Graupmann who both teach in the social sciences and human resources department at LCCC. If the project comes to fruition, viewers can expect filming to take place at the LCCC campus and on death according to Kimberlin. With the projected completion, the hope is that these projects will push LCCC to the forefront of study in the fields of psychology and criminal justice, Kimberlin said.