Pen, pencil, acrylic paint, combination lock and other mixed media. Mounted on prison locker, approx 24″x20″
Abstarced collection of notes made during difficult times.
In the prison system art was a way to kill time. Sometimes there would be an idea that I would try to get out of my head but that never worked very well because I did not know what I was doing. Usually I would attempt something, fail by my own standards, then simply move onto something like cards, reading or going outside. Then I had to do month after month in solitary confinement. My options for keeping myself busy were slim so I had to develop a hobby that would keep me sane. This is when I started to take art a little more seriously. The conditions of my confinement compelled me to practice. I would attempt drawings of almost anything I could see or think of over and over. There was a lot of repetition involved. Through this process I started to make pieces that I felt that I could share with family and friends. Those people enjoyed the art I was making while in the SHU and they in turn shared it with more people. The next thing I know my past-time is up on an internet gallery for the whole world to see. To me it was hard to understand but at the same time it was encouraging me to become a better artist. I now had a way to express myself and I also had people that were listening. Then something developed through this journey that I would have never predicted; I began taking an interest in helping others realize their artist abilities. Some fellow inmates have had no experience at all in artistic expression while others were artists that just might benefit from something new. This brought me a bunch of joy. The experience of helping someone grow in their abilities or to discover a “hidden” talent is one of the most wonderful feelings because it is a triumph that both the teacher and student can enjoy. At this point I understood that art can be used as a tool both in and outside of prison. A tool that gives people a place to go to when they are angry or happy, feeling lonely or just want to be alone. Some of my fellow inmates are not good at expressing themselves yet they can now through a brush or pencil. That is important. Important because the conversations that are taking place outside in the free world, about prison and the people that live within, need to have representations of the humanity that struggle on the inside. Artwork sparks those conversations. So for me art is much more about the visual combination of various elements, it is more than any technical style, composition or subject. It is about impact and what is communicated through connections made with the viewer. The butterfly effect is real and I would like to think that I have been caught up in its winds thanks to the very creative people in my family.
First off my gratitude to the Justice Arts Coalition team, with all their amazing support and the great friendship that I found within this great collection of people. Then there are my parents who always encouraged communication through artistic expression. My aunt Rebecca and uncle Craig for their unwavering support and networking abilities. Thanks to all the people who I have been able to build connections with throughout this journey. And most importantly the number one inspiration who compelled me to embrace art, following in his footsteps, my granddad, Giles. To the creative people that have influenced my life both before and during my prison sentence. Maybe my work can inspire something great in someone else, if that is the case I feel that I am doing my part to make a better community that I will be released back to. – CB
Deviant Art: http://www.deviantart.com/iilotd