Oil Pastel on Acrylic on Canvas
So I’ve been a part of a group that facilitates art workshops in prisons around the state of Michigan, as part of the PCAP project.
As an experience, of course, it has been incredibly enriching but more than that, it has been emotionally exhausting. By meeting inmates at such a close level, I not only found myself questioning the things I had taken for granted for myself, but also, found myself trying to imagine myself in their situation often.
How would I feel to be treated as almost inhuman? As an animal, all caged up and expecting to be corrected? We forget the reasons of crime and as a society enforce a punitive justice system that forces us to look at justice as revenge.
I painted, in response. A poem by an inmate published in Judith Tannenbaum’s book of prison poetry and her experience titled ‘Disguised as a Poem’ , really appealed me to me and I decided to express that visually.
The poem by an inmate named ‘Elmo’, goes:
“How can I give this thing
This thing inside of me
This thing I feel
It is a hungry thing
and my greatest fear
is that it wants to
How do I fight this thing?
This crafty thing
which moves in and out of me
like a tide
moves through me
with the force of radiation
deadly but unseen
How shall I fight thins thing?
And how much of it shall remain
when the battle
is finally over?”
Ganesha is the destroyer of fear, of evil, we believe. Ganesha, the elephant God that frames the picture with butterfly wings behind him. Darkness suppresses, threatening to overtake in the sides.
I was deeply inspired by Judith Tannenbaum, the author of ‘A Place to Stand’. Highly recommend reading about her.