Inmate Art Works

THE CLASS AND STUDENT ART

We believe participation in the artistic process significantly affects a person’s self-esteem. This process also affects their general outlook on the world. This is why we are bringing the arts to institutionalized individuals.

Below is a gallery featuring a collection of art and murals from students of Brush With the Law.  These students are inmates at the Montgomery County Correctional Facility in Eagleville, PA.

The inspiration for this program comes from the value of providing the incarcerated an alternative and meaningful way to express themselves. Brush With the Law allows individuals to do so in a nonverbal, nonjudgmental atmosphere. The class development is unique because they help alleviate depressive symptoms as well as heighten focus and concentration. Each of the classes aid in problem solving and self discipline techniques.

Below is a list of some of the exercises we did as a group to help with introspection, self reflection, and self expression.

1. Every week a reading was printed and handed out to every student/inmate. The readings included philosophy- such as Plato’s Allegory of the Cave, pieces of stories from classic literature, current news articles from noteworthy news media, anything that got their minds thinking mode. The students/inmates were assigned homework: to read the handout and write in their program provided journals notes,questions, and thoughts for the following week’s class so we as a group could discuss together insights of the newfound knowledge they had obtained. This helped create dialogue and positive social interaction amongst the participants and how to communicate thoroughly and effectively in a cordial manner.
2. Thinking Silhouette – With a partner, inmates traced their profile portrait using a strong light onto drawing
paper which were then colored in using one color of their choice. They were then instructed to think of
objects, shapes, trees, buildings, anything which depicted their own personal interests and then draw, paint,
collage those images onto the profile silhouette.
3. Name Embellishment – on a medium sized piece of canvas the inmate was asked only to use the letters of
their name to create a piece of art that would introduce themselves to someone they never met before. This
exercise encourages the student to think of who they are or who they hope to be by using colors, shapes,
symbols, collage of images, whatever to explain themselves visually without any words besides their names.
They also must think of how they want to be perceived by the person they are introducing themselves

Brush with the Law uses the practice of creating visual art as a catalyst for positive transformation. Patient application and vivid imagination prompts the imprisoned mind to be thoughtful and self-reflective. This program allows students to discover a means of self-expression other than crime.