Albert “Joe”, 48
I put out presents for my parents too with all three of our names on them. When everyone went to sleep that night, I set up the plastic tree with everyone’s presents underneath. My brothers woke up the next morning to their presents and I was the only one who didn’t have one. But that wasn’t true. My mother came out and my brothers thanked her. She looked at me and whispered “Thank you” and for me, that was my present, seeing everyone happy.
Today at 76, I have seen enough darkness. I know this darkness can only be dissipated by the light of truth and love.
I received a letter from my 19 year old daughter, Jazzy, asking me the most insightful question a father would ever have to answer, “Who are You?” And for the life of me, I could not write her a response.
Since I do not have the benefit of viewing things in the real world then painting them, I rely on my imagination.
Art is a perfect way for those of us incarcerated to reach out to society and show we’re more than just criminals.
My life in art began after a life-threatening illness when I was five years old. Since that time art has become a manner through which I express thoughts, feelings and perceptions to share with others. I enjoy creating things that represent aspects of our humanity. Sometimes we forget our higher selves. Sometimes we forget the inner beauty we carry within, burying it under layers of conditioned reactions. So I offer the reminder with Illuminations and Wisdom In Blue.
Shakeil “Shak”, 42
To know our movement influenced the next generation of our family to carry the torch, filled both of us with pride and joy.
Anthony “David”, 41
Life is the biggest test, the only way some people learn is from making honest mistakes, and learning from them.
I don’t want to live in the shadow of the crime that I committed. I know I have the capacity to change because I’m putting in the work to learn about myself.
As an openly queer person, I wondered if it would matter to the audience. Performing in prison can be like performing in front of the audience at Showtime at the Apollo. They will let you know in an instant if you are off- key. Would their toxic masculinity afford me the moment of performing as Nero and tell the story of love between two different-sexed loving people?
I’m a self-titled hopeless romantic. I see love as the most exhilarating thing any person can experience.