Robert, 66
Robert, 66

Meet Robert…

I can’t always articulate what I want to say or put my feelings into words. But as soon as I grab a pen or dip my hands into the paint my emotions flow on to the paper or canvas.

Incarcerated: 25 years

I can’t always articulate what I want to say or put my feelings into words. But as soon as I grab a pen or dip my hands into the paint my emotions flow on to the paper or canvas. I don’t use brushes when I paint my Hope Not characters. I love art in all its forms and mediums. Art has been a constant companion throughout most of my time in the system. It is more than just a hobby or something to do to pass the time. Art is the air I breathe, and the sea I swim. I’ve cultivated empathy and reconnected with humanity as a result of practicing art, and honing my skills. Once I realized my ability to create I developed a sense of self-worth and confidence I never had. Arts In Corrections has been a vital part of my rehabilitation. There was a time when it was shut down and canceled across the state, so for more than a few miserable years California prisons did have any art programs. Then in 2013-14 I was at RJ Donovan prison in San Diego and volunteers from San Diego University began a pilot program called Project Paint. The workshops and classes I was allowed to participate in have been some of my best memories in prison. All artists were welcomed and appreciated. Along with drawing and painting techniques I also learned 3D art. I started making Hope Not dolls in RJ Donovan. Each one is unique with recycled materials, its own mask, usually a gas mask or sugar skull. If you’re interested in making a donation to Cystic Fibrosis or Autism charity in exchange for a Hope Not painting or doll, Humans of San Quentin has my contact information. Even though I’m sentenced to life in prison, art has given me freedom.

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