Prisoner Art

As I walked through the Light from the Inside: Art From Illinois Prisons located within the Chicago Cultural Center, I couldn’t help being amazed by the creativity of the prisoners locked up within Illinois.  Not only would the artwork be phenomenal had someone else created it, but what really blew me away was the art supplies, or lack thereof, used to create the artwork.  Most inmates only have access to the inside part of the pen, the part that holds the ink.  Even with this limited tool, the artists still manage to do amazing shading and contrast.  The “paper” used is legal sized envelopes cut open to allow for more space, or file folders laid flat.  Inmates opting to use pieces of their bedsheets as canvas or bars of soap to make carvings are often written up for destruction of state property.  Color from candies and other foods is used to enhance the pictures as no other art supplies are allowed.  I don’t understand why, IDOC wouldn’t want to take advantage of this possible program to keep inmates entertained.  Why should inmates only be allowed to take part in art within their cells?  If we allowed inmates to have the proper supplies, to an extent, and a teacher to provide guidance for those wanting it, I think this would be a great program to have within prisons.  It would help the prisoners pass the time and provide them with a healthy activity that could be transfered to the outside world.  What do you guys think?

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