PCAPS art project
I can happily say that I will graduate from this university rest assured that I finally got a chance to see the prisoner creative arts exhibit. And all I can say about it was that it was magnificent.
I should say that I barely made it to the exhibit. I had just come back from doing some errands and was rather out of breath. But I told myself that it was the last day of the exhibition, and this is something I didn’t want to miss and had missed the last three years. I was racing to find a bus to take me to north campus, and racing to find where the exhibit was. But the feeling that flooded my head once I went there was the immense calm, lightness, happiness, and just feeling refreshed and renewed. Not feelings one would expect to have anything to do with prisoners.
That’s what I had to remind myself that, these paintings were in fact done by prisoners. Which is something I am not saying is a negative reminder. But a reminder that perhaps we should look differently at who we consider as prisoners? The fact is that they are human and many of them are there not because of more serious offenses like murder or rape, but rather possession of cocaine. When they are there for decades for such crimes, it costs the state millions in tax dollars. As Al Sharpton once famously said, “It costs more to send someone to jail, then it does to send a kid to Yale.” Plus, many prisons are private prisons and these owners are profiting from harboring these souls. As a side note, this system of owners getting profit while we taxpayers footing the bill is what an Economic sociology professor called, “Privatizing profit and socializing risk.”
But aside from the art sending a social message of the prison industrial complex and what parts of should and shouldn’t be there, some of the art itself was giving social/personal messages. There were arts which had an eye.. shedding a drop of blood.. and I believe it was called shedding a tear of pain. It was beyond powerful and painful. Even now as I think about it, I find it a bit painful. There was one artwork done in pencil about a girl who was crying on the floor of her high school with her books titled English, Algebra, and Teen Pregnancy. Out of her school bag she lifted a fetus covered with matter ( perhaps blood all over) and she was profusely crying as she held him by his umbilical cord.
There were ones which were trying to send social messages- but I wasn’t sure exactly what they were trying to say. But they were still beautiful. There was one showing the map of Israel surrounded by deep bluest prettiest of waters. There were also some portraits of elderly Hispanic women. Which I should add seemed dark and somber and were well done- they seemed almost Rembrandt-eqsue. There were also some paintings you could tell that were done by Native American artists, because they had the beautiful Native American handiwork done on the frame. Some of them topped of the frame with feathers and one even had a mini-dream catcher. There was also a beautiful portrait of Obama done by pencil and a few other ones of Obama. One even was more about Michelle Obama and stated “Michelle Obama for president.” I should add that seeing many of the paintings with Native American Motifs and Hispanic women really reminded me of how many of the prison population is composed of Native Americans and Hispanics.
Since this is this the semester of RACE at LSA, I should some focus to some arts which focused on race. I would say that my favorite race message art was one where every continent had a different color. But when they painted America.. it had dots from every different continent and the art was titled, “America Land of Immigrants.” I should add that I wish people from other countries would see this, because the current perspective is that America is a Black/White nation and that other colors don’t exist or aren’t American. I am just reminiscing about friends who were Chinese-American and their study abroad experiences.. but I digress… (well this is a good example of how these art got me thinking and feeling passionately..)
And lastly.. As much as I consider myself to be a social activist- minded person I will say that, my favorite paintings were that of the landscape or cute forest critters! Or should I say majestic forest animals ( I guess to me no matter how majestic they get, they will always be cute critters). There was one of these tall deer look beyond the trees. There was another one of ducks. I cannot help but look at the cute cherubic faces of the ducklings! There were also these incredible, incredible, incredible landscape paintings. One was in the Fall of a bus stop. Another was entitled Winter with beautiful snow on the ground and birch trees. Another – and this was my favorite picture of the entire art show was of a red cabin/farm house next to the water during Fall. The colors were so vivid. You could see the different orange, yellow, green, and reds so well!! Furthermore, you could see that the artists showed that some of the leaves on trees were still green and others were red- Which is very realistic!
In sum, this was an excellent event, and I was thrilled to have gone.
PCAPS art project