Artist Jorge, 38
Incarcerated: 22 yrs
I started drawing at 16 because I couldn’t read or write. In juvenile hall, I got a stack of letters from my mom I couldn’t answer. So, I’d draw smiley or sad faces to let her know how I felt. I was too embarrassed to tell her or anyone I couldn’t read. Thanks to my mom, I got into drawing. One day, I brought one of the staff to tears when I asked her to read my moms letters. When I’m drawing, I’m back to that same kid that loves life. I’m at peace, I’m kind and respectful. When you live a gang mentality you feel like there’s no escape, but then you realize that it’s for nothing. When my little brother got shot, I felt the impact on the community, especially when my mom cried. I realized gangs terrorize the community. That was the moment I said, “What’s my purpose?” I changed and got on the right path. I feel like I have more friends now, who are positive- of all cultures- I don’t judge. When I’m creating art, it shows there’s more to me than my past. Whatever I draw and send home is important. It makes an impact. Art is a perfect way for us to reach out to society and show we’re more than just criminals. We’re loving, too. We just made bad choices. Humans of San Quentin is a way to show that our hard work pays off. Art to me is about expressing myself and inspiring others. My first painting is of two hands holding barbed wire so everyone inside can have hope and not give up. They resemble a gravestone to honor the incarcerated Older Guys (OGs) who passed away in prison. A lot of us incarcerated have been given advice by them. Two of my cellies have passed away, who also inspired me. My second painting is of Marilyn Monroe in charcoal. I always liked her. My wife is my queen, she and my son and daughter are my motivation. My goal is to make it home, to give back to my community by making a studio for kids and their parents so they can use their talent in a positive way and not end up in my shoes. If I can do that, I’ll inspire the kids. Both of Jorge’s paintings will be for sale along with 41 pieces painted by people inside SQ. 👀for our auction and please stop by our San Quentin office to see them in person!