The Museum of Art & History at the McPherson Center

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The Cell and the Sanctuary: Art and Incarceration: November 7, 2014 – February 22, 2015

Felix Lucero, Blind Curve, 2010; courtesy William James Association

Felix Lucero, Blind Curve, 2010; courtesy William James Association

3rd Floor Art Forum

Overcrowded? Inhumane? Necessary? In a California prison, what does art look like?

See for yourself. Explore the paintings, drawings, sculptures and writing made by incarcerated individuals from prisons around California. These will be alongside installation, audio/video and 2-D works by teachers from their impactful art-in-prisons programs.

The incarcerated artists in this exhibition are on a unique path of self-discovery. They’re exploring arts as a means to become someone who can reconnect with the outside. Evidence suggests that arts-in-prisons programs lower recidivism (returning to prisons) by 27% and reduce disciplinary actions by 75%.  They improve relationships between people within the prison as well as with guards and supervisory staff. Inmates exposed to arts programs are more likely to adjust to life outside prison and are less likely to become repeat offenders.

Featured in this exhibition, these teachers, artists and organizations are working together within the prison system to provide a direct link between incarcerated individuals and something larger than their dehumanizing cells. The arts become a vehicle for expression, self-identification and self-direction. If prisons are about transformation of the self, then these artists provide themselves with tools necessary to become someone new: artistic expression.

In collaboration with Barrios Unidos and the William James Association.


Explore the work of currently incarcerated artists as well as their teachers:

Ned Axthelm
Peter Bergne
Guillermo Willie
Stan Bey
Khalifah Christensen
Dennis Crookes
Isiah Daniels
Justus Evans
Bruce Fowler
Henry Frank
Roy Gilstrap
Ronnie Goodman
Thomas Grider
Gary Harrell
Amy M. Ho
John Hoskings
David Johnson
Ben Jones
Richard Kamler
Chung Kao
Darryl Kennedy
Rolf Kissman
Felix Lucero
Katya McCollah
Pat Messy
Omid Mokri
Gerald Morgan
Carol Newborg
Stan Newborg
James Norton
Eric “Phil” Phillips
Anthony Marco Ramirez
Adrienne Skye Roberts
Mark Stanley
Fred Tinsley
Tan Tran
Kurt Von Staden
Geno Washington
Michael Williams
Thomas Winfrey
Noah WrightBeth Thielen