a year and a half ago we started a De’VIA Prison Art Workshop in a maximum security men’s prison. we go once a month and work on various De’VIA art projects with the guys. it has been a very meaningful and moving experience for me. Below is a poem one of the guys wrote about the counselor (‘blue’) and interpreter (‘long coral’) and us (the artworkshop folks – ‘long red’, ‘short brown’, ‘later beard’) and the ART!
i cant properly explain all i am learning and feeling from this experience but it is abundant and priceless. i hope others will take up doing art, literature, continuing ed or other types of projects in prisons – especially with Deaf prisoners. Language deprivation is huge in prison for Deaf folks.
To read more about the prison art project go to: https://deviapepcoedisongallery.wordpress.com/artists/prisoners-art/ and read about A Room With a View. To see some of the artworks on display – go to the Unfolding the Soul of Black Deaf Expression exhibit in the Dyer Arts Center (show ends at the end of February). Scroll down to see some artwork here also and an artwork from Maria Dollhopf asking for folks to take a stand on behalf of Deaf people in prison.
“DEAF GREENS’ IDEAS AWAKEN FIERCELY”
Greens lived enclosed colorless
become mindless dwindling
Abandon hope, left behind isolation, diminish
Dwell loss humanity turn to savage mind
Blue saw them, look not good for deaf greens
Long Coral was newcomer and met some of them.
Long Coral fascinated hand communication, learned them
Gave her free time to others
Blue and Coral tried bring them into good side but struggling
Blue seek out and found long Red, short brown later beard
Bought 3 of them into enclosed colorless, appear before deaf greens
Deaf greens look up, saw beautiful colorful light and being awake
3 of them magic turn colorless into colorful room
Hope restore, grow, humanity return slowly, Fill up mindful with soul
Long Coral took over blue’s task
Long Coral brought yellow, pink and coral color to this room, addition feminine’s touch
This room slow grow colorful, light up, pop new painting, drawing papers
Deaf greens unable express but their feeling truly grateful for all 5 of you
Deaf greens will never forget all of you, all of you will be in memory into mind
So thankful for your big heart and your time
Forward for more magic drawing and painting in future and much more….
~ written CJ upon release leaving prison
CJ thank you so much for this precious poem.
Holiday cards made in the De’VIA prison project.
(collage of images put together by Rob Tawney “later beard”)
These trees were made by different prisoners at different times – without any prodding or suggestions from us. the third light sketch one was for a later mural that would be made up of 4 canvases. when getting ready to paint the canvases the guys had to ask the newest member what trees’ colors were as they could not properly remember having gone so long without seeing trees. (this is made evident in a letter from Felix Garcia – a Deaf man who has been in prison in FLA for over 30 years for a crime his brother has confessed to)
art by Maria Dollhopf