Artist Jeffrey, 59
Incarcerated: 19 years
My late mother is the one who originally inspired me to get into art. She would draw with her left hand. I was amazed at the angle and how she made it look easy. In kindergarten I started out drawing fish, dinosaurs, trees, and landscapes. My favorite part of the day in San Quentin is when I get to go to the studio and help other artists. The “Arts In Corrections” classes are like an extended family. We’ve all been through our individual traumas, and art is the vehicle that brings peace and healing. We all still suffer through daily challenges. For example: My friend Joe shared that his art sucked in comparison to everyone else’s. I assured him there would be a day he would not only enjoy creating his art, but would love it, regardless of where he compared to others. I told him the story of how a child learns how to walk, first they learn how to crawl, then walk before they can run, where in between there are a lot of struggles. Joe got the point and began to excel in his art. His confidence increased by leaps and bounds, and his art-work even surpassed many of the artists in our classes! I would also like to share why I am so passionate about helping others: As the result of the childhood traumas I suffered, I chose to go down a path of crime, which also caused many others to suffer trauma. I thought of myself as a piece of crap, but since I’ve found healing and a sense of value through my faith, self-help groups, and my art, instead of bringing hurt, destruction, and trauma for others, I now have dedicated my life to bringing love, peace, and healing. I want to be a productive member of society, not one that brings destruction. I’m putting this into practice. I am working to help people outside through my art because I want to make amends to all those I have hurt. I do this by donating some of my artwork to worthy causes like “Breast Cancer Awareness” and “Southern Poverty Law Center,” to name a few. I also care deeply about climate change and have recently contributed to the “Peace Flag Project,” and entered a painting to a gallery in Santa Cruz, plus other pieces to other exhibits about climate change.