Resourceful Art

Text and photos by Bethany Shepler, SPP Green Track Program Coordinator

Creating fine art is rarely described as an easy activity—inspiration and skills have to be cultivated. Creating art in prison is even more difficult. Many inmates don’t have access to the materials needed to do artwork, whether that be painting, drawing, wood burning, or any other type of art. But some artists seem to take this as an interesting challenge and, working with Washington State Department of Corrections (WA Corrections) staff, they find a way to create the art they envision. During my recent trip to the Washington State Penitentiary (WSP), I got to see some of the beautiful artwork being created in the Sustainable Practices Lab, and that will be going on display at a local gallery in Walla Walla; they will be showcasing not only the talent, but resourceful nature of art that is created in prisons.

The inmates at WSP have to make their own canvas. They use old bed sheets and pull them tight over a frame – made from recycled wood – and then seal the sheets with 4 coats of wax. The final product is similar to a canvas you might buy at an art store.

A close-up of canvases inmates made from recycled and reclaimed materials.

These pieces are created by two men who feel a sense of freedom when expressing themselves and their opinions through their art. They are clearly both skilled artists, but chose one creative lead for the project with the underlying theme – social critique.

Take a look!

The artist told me that this piece will have more color on the masks before it’s complete; even though it’s not done yet, it looks so cool!

2 Comments:

  1. Judy Miller

    We bought a captivating painting last night at the Walla Walla hospice auction. It was a series of Pears. Do you sell the art directly to the public? Do you allow the art work to be displayed in pubic areas?

    I run two public rural health clinics that would be greatly improved by displaying upbeat art. Thank you for your time. Our new art has already improved our lifes.

    Warm regards.

    Reply to this comment ↓

Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.