Artful expressions from the incarcerated | Arts & Culture

Artful expressions from the incarcerated

Artful expressions from the incarcerated

By Sari Adelson

The Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) presents the Eighteenth  Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners.  Running from March 19 – April 3, the exhibit will be held at the Duderstadt Center Gallery on the University of Michigan North Campus at 2281 Bonisteel Boulevard.

During the past 18 years, the nationally recognized show has grown into the largest exhibition of prisoner art in the country.  This year’s exhibition includes more than 300 works of art by over 200 artists, shedding light on the talents to be found behind prison walls and encouraging the public to take a second look.

In connection to the University’s theme semester on Race, this year’s exhibition gave artists the opportunity to submit work relating to Race. The curators asked artists how they respond to challenges about one’s race, either individually or collectively. The hope is that art that responds to this question will facilitate dialogue where artists and viewers will grapple with the issue and where viewers in the gallery can dialogue with one another in a fruitful and beneficial way.

Free and open to the public, the exhibition and surrounding educational events raise awareness and inspire dialogue between the incarcerated and the community at large. The public is invited to an opening reception on March 19th from 5:30 – 8 p.m. in the gallery.  Formerly incarcerated artists who have now re-entered into the community will speak about what the show means to those in prison.

Participating artists express gratitude to organizers and gallery visitors alike, stressing the show’s impact on their lives and the community at large.  “I believe that your program gives the public a glimpse into the type of things that inspire even the most downtrodden of us all” writes one artist. “When people see our work, for a few moments, they forget that this work was done by a felon, but by another human being.  A human being who has the same thoughts, emotions, and inspirations as they do, and for that one moment, a major social and political barrier is shattered.”

This year’s exhibition, curated by Buzz Alexander, Janie Paul, Sari Adelson, and Charlie Michaels, exhibits work from over forty prisons throughout the state.  The curators, along with various volunteers, travel to these prisons and hand select the strongest work from the artists. As a result of this annual event, the amount of art created in Michigan prisons has increased dramatically, and Michigan prison artists have become national leaders, inspiring others to create art behind bars.

The exhibition is to be accompanied by the release of the 5th Annual Literary Review of Creative Writing by Michigan Prisoners, And Still You Expect Greatness. Readings of works from the publication by formerly incarcerated individuals are set to take place both in Ann Arbor and in the Detroit area, and youth from Detroit will join us for a dialog about what’s on their minds, as they speak about their lives and their communities.  For full schedule of events please contact the PRISON CREATIVE ARTS PROJECT.

SCHEDULE

Tuesday, March 19

Opening Reception

Join the Prison Creative Arts Project as we celebrate the opening of the 18th Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners. Formerly incarcerated artists, and Curators Buzz Alexander, Janie Paul, Sari Adelson and Charlie Michaels, will address visitors to the gallery at 6:15 p.m. Free and open to the public.

5:30 – 8:00 p.m., Duderstadt Center Gallery, 2281 Bonisteel Blvd., Ann Arbor MI

Wednesday, March 20

Keynote Speaker: A. Hasan Davis

Kentucky’s Commissioner of Juvenile Justice, A. Hasan Davis will discuss his experience serving the needs of our young people in education, juvenile justice and the arts. Afterwards, there will be time for questions and discussion. This exciting opportunity is free and open to the public.

7 – 9 p.m., Michigan Room, Michigan League, 911 N University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI

Saturday, March 23

Families of the Incarcerated

Please come join us for a unique event that offers an incredible, and often unheard, perspective from the families affected by the American Judicial system.  There will be an open discussion, which will be led by family members of incarcerated men and women who will share their stories about being so closely connected to someone behind bars.

1:00-3:00pm, Wolverine Room, Michigan Union, 530 S. State St., Ann Arbor, MI

 

Book Release and Reading: Prison Creative Arts Project’s Annual Literary Review by Michigan Prisoners, Vol. 5.

An annual collection of Michigan’s best creative writing, PCAP’s Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing seeks to showcase the talent and diversity of the writers within the state’s correctional facilities. The review features writing from both beginning and experienced writers – writing that comes from the heart, and that is unique, well-crafted, and lively.

The night will kick off with a reading of selections from the book by friends and family of contributing authors. PCAP volunteers and staff will be present to answer questions about the organization. Complimentary snacks and beverages, as well as a merchandise table to purchase the book. Donations welcome.

5:00 – 7:00 PM Saturday, March 23 Michigan Union Kuenzel Room, 530 S. State Street. Free.

 

Saturday, March 30

Youth Speak

Please join us as a group of Detroit youth come together to discuss serious issues of urban living.  It will be a facilitated dialogue with these bright young leaders about the challenges they face, and then an open discussion with all in attendance about these same challenges.

1:00 – 3:00pm, Kalamazoo Room, Michigan League, 911 N University, Ann Arbor, MI

Book Release and Reading: Prison Creative Arts Project’s Annual Literary Review by Michigan Prisoners, Vol. 5.

An annual collection of Michigan’s best creative writing, PCAP’s Michigan Review of Prisoner Creative Writing seeks to showcase the talent and diversity of the writers within the state’s correctional facilities. The review features writing from both beginning and experienced writers – writing that comes from the heart, and that is unique, well-crafted, and lively.

The night will kick off with a reading of selections from the book by friends and family of contributing authors. PCAP volunteers and staff will be present to answer questions about the organization. Complimentary snacks and beverages, as well as a merchandise table to purchase the book. Donations welcome.

7:00 – 9:00 p.m., 1515 Broadway St., Detroit, MI 48226

 

Sunday, March 24

Artist Panel

Join us as a panel of formerly incarcerated artists discuss the works in this year’s show and the process of creating art behind bars. The event is moderated by U of M’s School of Art and Design Professor, Janie Paul.

3 – 5 PM Duderstadt Center Gallery, 2281 Bonisteel Blvd., Ann Arbor MI

 

Wednesday, April 3

Closing Reception

5:30 – 8:00 p.m., Duderstadt Center Gallery, 2281 Bonisteel Blvd., Ann Arbor MI

Gallery Hours

Tuesday-Saturday 10am – 7pm

Sunday-Monday 12pm – 6pm

For further information

call 734-647-7673 or email prisonart@umich.edu

Exhibition hours: 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday; and, 12 p.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday – Monday

 Image Credit: Tim Brownell My Escape

Sari Adelson is Prison Creative Arts Project Coordinator of Exhibitions and Development.