Escaping Time Uses Art to Rehabilitate Prisoners

This August, experience a different view of a life behind bars with Escaping Time: Art From U.S. Prisons, a unique show of artwork created by inmates. Curated by Anastasia Voron, Director of Exhibitions at Wallplay, the show is a production of the Safe Streets Arts Foundation, which aims to rehabilitate men and women in prison through the use of art.

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Escaping Time Showcases Art from U.S. Prisoners

On view from August 1st through September 27th on Governors Island, the show includes over 200 pieces collected from prisons across the country and on view for the first time, including works from renowned painter Anthony Papa and display-only pieces attributed to Charles Manson. Each piece for purchase includes an accompanying handwritten letter from the artist. The groundbreaking art show highlights the therapeutic properties of art, and calls attention to the struggle many prisoners face when attempting to reintegrate into society after their release. The show aims to help the prisoners by building their credibility as artists, giving them a platform on which to build a new career.

The highlight of the show will be a collection of art by world-renowned oil painter Anthony Papa, a former prisoner himself whose work has been collected by the Whitney Museum of American Art. An artist, writer, and drug war activist, Papa first tried to build a business selling his art upon his release in 1997, but struggled to gain credibility in the art world. Now internationally known, Papa has been featured in multiple news sites and networks, and his pieces currently sell for thousands of dollars. In  addition to the artwork available for purchase, Escaping Time: Art From U.S. Prisons will also include a display-only series of undocumented pieces widely attributed to Charles Manson, which will not be for sale.

“The consolations of expression should not be limited to physical entrapment. Art offers prisoners a new conviction that, although their circumstances may seem inescapable, their memories, experiences, and hopeful dispositions are preserved,” says Voron. “The complexities of incarceration in the U.S. penal system are reminders that time is not of the essence. Escaping Time: Art from U.S. Prisons seeks to unlock the barriers of physical and temporal captivity by presenting the bouts of escapism that compel inmates to create art. During the confined period of forced introspection and shortage of external stimuli, art can provide a sense of flight from confined walls and copious time.”

The show is particularly timely given the current national discussion led by President Obama about the need for prison reform. In addition to the art pieces, the show will feature quotes and statistics demonstrating the transformative and therapeutic properties of art, as well as videos of John Oliver and President Obama speaking about the tremendous need for prison reform. Staffed by former inmates from Defy Ventures and housed in a former military home, the show will benefit the Safe Streets Arts Foundation, the prisoner artists, and the Defy Ventures staff, which offers intensive leadership development courses to former inmates.

About The Safe Streets Art Foundation

By supporting imprisoned artists, writers, and musicians, the Safe Streets Arts Foundation helps the 2.5 million men and women in U.S prisons communicate with each other and the public. The program aims to use art to help rehabilitate men and women in prison, and to teach those in the justice community to use art to convey their feelings. Incorporating The Prisons Foundation and The Victims Foundation, The Safe Streets Arts Foundation exhibits art at several major art fairs and festivals around the country, operates The National Jail Museum and Art Gallery, and produces the annual Justice Arts Show at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.


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Source: The Safe Streets Art Foundation

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