Kenneth’s Gallery

Kenneth’s Gallery

 

Artist Kenneth, 69

Incarcerated: 23 years 
Housed: Stateville Correctional Center, Joliet, Illinois

I express my reality through art and poetry. My biggest regret is failing my son. I take responsibility for him sitting in the cell right above me. Despite all the things that challenge us as black men, I fail him as a father.

My art is born out of the many social injustice issues that we face day to day; such as the school to prison pipeline, protests and to black lives matter. There are proud moments, to man’s call and dependence on something higher than himself.  I paint and write with the purpose and intent to provoke thought and conversation. I ask you for your feedback and suggestions and if it motivates you to get involved in helping the marginalization of the black and brown. We are often forgotten.

Khiem, 41

Khiem, 41

Meet Khiem…

Through art I found a connection to my son. And through drawing I guided him to express his feelings in a positive way.

Incarcerated: 11 years

I have a son named Jason. Being a father who is far away, I needed to find a way to connect to my son. When I got locked up, he was nearly two. On his second birthday, I wanted to send him a card. I told myself I would learn how to draw so I could draw for him and everyone who supports me out there. I found that drawing was not only helping me build our relationship, It was also a way to express my emotions, a productive way to spend my time and it helped me focus and I’ve learned to be patient. It turned into a therapy which took me out of prison. I draw flowers, birds, koi fishes, and Spiderman, my son’s favorite superhero. I am also helping him to express his feelings through art. I could confidently say we finally found a common ground that we can talk about whenever I call home. Today, I would like to share my story and my little drawing. I hope by my sharing, it will help lift people up and help them find peace. I drew for peace in Ukraine, tensions in Southeast Asia, etc. I want to wish the world a peaceful moment. I was the kid who was growing up after the war. I’ve experienced that path and I had to move to a whole different country. I left behind everything and struggled for a new life. So peace is what I wish for, not only in the world, but for all of us incarcerated, who live in a negative environment. The blossom flowers represent a better life, better moments under the moonlight, under the darkest times. Even if the flower could blossom under the moonlight, so do we- right! 

Thank you for asking me to write and thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my feelings. I would say expressing feelings through art is one of the most powerful, positive ways which I wish I could have learned a long time ago (before I committed my crime). Through art I found a connection to my son. And through drawing I guided him to express his feelings in a positive way.

Through drawing I found a connection to my son. And through drawing I guided him to express his feelings in a positive way. He is now 13 and interesting in cooking, I am glad he found something positive to do and help cope with his daily problems.

Jim “Fuzzy”, 65

Jim “Fuzzy”, 65

Meet Jim “Fuzzy”…

We know anything coming from a prisoner is unheard of, society only ever hears of negatives, never positive, but some behind bars are capable of empathy, remorse and lifting up others from despair.

Incarcerated: 45 years

Housed: Marion Correctional Institution, Ohio

Over the past several decades I have painted and gifted 11,000 landscapes to needy causes, individuals, and created educational projects. In recent months our team orchestrated an event at a private school in Baja, Mexico. Seventy four paintings were gifted to the senior students, who performed remarkable deeds. 

Giving back to strangers is a wonderful message to share. We know anything coming from a prisoner is unheard of, society only ever hears of negatives, never positive, but some behind bars are capable of empathy, remorse and lifting up others from despair.

Alyce, 70

Alyce, 70

Meet Alyce…

Man, for the next twenty years that idiot would periodically come out, naked as usual, asking if they looked like they were hanging. Worry wart! And they say women are vain.

Incarcerated: 6 years

Housed: Corona, California

When I was 15, I lied about my age and was hired as a nurse’s aid in a convalescent hospital in Huntington Beach. It was one of those crappy dumping grounds where the indigent were taken to die. I made minimum wage and worked six days a week from 3:30 to midnight. I was standing by the nurses station having just finished my rounds checking and changing diapers. A rather tall fellow, 80’s if he was a day, 100 pounds soaking wet, naked as a jaybird comes shuffling down the hallway holding his catheter bag muttering, “Can someone help me, please?” Up until working in this place, I’d never seen a naked old man before and I have to say, it wasn’t pretty. What stood out was his nuts, they damn near stretched down to his knobby knees, banging back and forth like the clapper in a cowbell. With eyes wide open I just looked at the nurses like, “I can use some help here.” Flash forward 40 years. My husband of 25 years died and I’m shacking up with Fred, a Puerto Rican five years my junior. He’s watching me dress one night and asks, “How come women’s breasts sag like that? My wife did the same thing.” With mild indignation, I looked and queried “First things first. Your wife had four babies did she not?” He smiles with pride, “Oh yeah.” “Well, there you go. Breastfeeding is a killer on the boobs and when we get older, gravity strikes,” I noted with disgust looking at my 44 double DD’s that are now 38 longs. He shakes his head and says, “Sure am glad that doesn’t happen to men.” I looked over at him and said, “I got a newsflash for you sweetcheeks, and I proceeded to tell him the story about the knee-knocking nuts I saw in that hospital. When I was done, he was just standing there slack-jawed, eyes bulging in abject horror. I smiled and went back to dressing. Later, Fred, who has always had nice tight testis came walking out into the living room- naked as that proverbial jaybird and with furrowed brows ask, “Do they look like they’re hanging?” “Really, did you really just ask me that?” Man, for the next twenty years that idiot would periodically come out, naked as usual, asking if they looked like they were hanging. Worry wart! And they say women are vain.

Thomas’s Gallery

Thomas’s Gallery

 

Artist Thomas, 52

Incarcerated: 27 years

Tell us when you first became interested in art?

It’s a really funny story, how I fell in love with art. When I was nine, my father had a friend who was a painter. At the time my family had just moved into a new house and the friend gave my father a painting. It was so amazing to me. The painting had such lifelike characteristics. I was hooked. It’s so funny to think about it now, I would get up close to it and look at it from the side to see if somehow it bulged out to trick the eye into seeing that. I had to figure it out. I guess in one sense I have been chasing that image ever since. Since then art has been a refuge, a companion and more importantly a connection to others. The ability to bring others together is the most satisfying part for me. Most of the affection my work has gotten has come recently. Because of you, my art has received more attention and the feedback from others has been so positive. I’m falling in love with it all over again. I thank you from my heart, God bless you. Finally, for another time, there is another aspect to my art: this story is the very essence of irony and fate. Again God bless you all.

Sean’s Gallery

Sean’s Gallery

Artist Sean, 34

At 17, I was transferred from juvenile hall to the county jail and held in isolation. The day after my 18th birthday I was moved into a dorm full of adult men. I was young and scared. I met two men who I would eventually be sentenced to more time than the two of them combined, life without the possibility of parole (LWOP), plus ten years for an enhancement; all for a crime I did not commit. During this time, I met an older Hispanic man covered in prison tattoos. His tattoos and prison experience made me nervous as he sat in the dayroom drawing. I was captivated by his effortless skill. After I got up the nerve to approach him, he was pleased to share his artistic knowledge. Using blank white paper and hair grease bought from the commissary, he taught me how to make tracing paper, then shade with graphite pencils, rolled up toilet paper, and elementary blending of colored pencils. My artistic journey began slowly and mostly consisted of simple cartoon images, but I was hooked. I enjoyed drawing and the peace it gave me.

Over the next several years, each new artist I met, I would ask for tips and advice. I found my passion in colors. I ordered books on colored pencils and studied them intently. I practiced their techniques, pushed beyond my comfort zone and began adapting my own techniques utilizing my accumulated knowledge.

Nearly two decades later I am sharing my artistic knowledge with others. Colors are still my passion and I see them in a way that allows me to blend them into vivid colors. I have always loved creating my art and sending it home to share with my family. I never thought I would be able to share my art on a platform such as Humans of San Quentin and I am honored to do so. There is very little beauty or color in prison, but even the concrete and steel cannot stop me from creating the colorful art I love to share.