Ray, 42

Ray, 42

Meet Ray…

“I’m grateful for this God given gift of being able to draw and create what’s on my mind, more so what’s in my heart”

Ray, 42

Incarcerated: 23 years

Housed: California State Prison, Vacaville

Art is Life. Art is wonderful, soothing, the great escape, but I must mention the golden aspect: art is open for interpretation and all interpretation is valued! As an artist I get asked a well known question, “How long have you been drawing?” My response, since I was five. But as I reflect back on some of the artwork that captivated my attention, it came from prison. My cousin’s boyfriend sent her a hand-made Mickey Mouse card. Mickey had a tank top on, Jacky’s and some Nike Cortez’s on his feet, looking and standing banged out… and that card was drawn in ink pen. Another piece of artwork came from my uncle, he sent my aunt a hand-made card with a car drawn on a piece of filing folder, and the car was a “Monte Carlos” with a tent on the windows and Dayton wire wheels also drawn in ink pen. These pieces of artwork motivated me to keep drawing over and over until I reached some resemblances. Throughout my childhood I’ve had my fair share of getting in trouble and the majority of the time being on punishment, I spent drawing. Now as аn adult being on punishment (incarcerated), my time is devoted to working in the Delancey Street Restaurant, in groups, painting, drawing creatures and practicing with other mediums. But overall I’m grateful for this God given gift of being able to draw and create what’s on my mind, more so what’s in my heart.

Gerardo “Jerry” “Junebug”, 39

Gerardo “Jerry” “Junebug”, 39

Meet Gerardo…

Prior to prison I was a college athlete running track and playing baseball. I had a full time job as a fitness counselor and had a beautiful, kind loving pitbull named Eva.

Gerardo “Jerry,” “Junebug”, 39
Incarcerated: 16 years
Housed: Centinela State Prison, Imperial, California

Prior to prison I was a college athlete running track and playing baseball. I had a full time job as a fitness counselor and had a beautiful, kind loving pitbull named Eva. My life was tied together by sports. I always felt it was my ticket to a brighter future. I constantly found myself surrounded by friends having a good time. Today I realize I never had any real friends because every one of them has turned their backs on me. Being alone has been the hardest adjustment I’ve had to make, now I understand the true meaning of family and friendship. I truly value those who have stood by me during these hard times. It’s easy to take things for granted, but I can’t do that. I embrace the things I don’t have and honor the things I do. I’ve spent many days and nights searching deep inside myself to find where I went wrong and why things turned out this way. I’ve made a lot of changes for the better to become the best version of myself and to praise those who walk this journey by my side and if I’m ever given an opportunity to regain my life, the first thing on my list is to show people how much I appreciate them. We all make mistakes in our lives and sometimes there are consequences for our poor choices. It’s what we do in our efforts to change and learn from our actions.

Even though I am locked up, I’d like to think I can do some good and lend my voice to someone out there in hopes my story can make a difference. My new voice is spoken through my art. It is also the sole reason Humans of San Quentin came to hear of me, through my platform on, Art For Redemption. I came into prison scared and confused and only worthy of drawing stick figures. I was sitting in isolation and my neighbor came to check on me and saw I wasn’t doing well. He suggested I try drawing, but I had no skills. He continued to visit me and each day he gave me tips and showed me his techniques enough to where I could fly on my own; that was 16 years ago. Today, my art has touched every corner of the globe and it’s how I’ve become inspired to continue with people out there in the real world picking me up with praise, letting me know I matter and I’ve done something to draw their interest. My passion lies in the emotions I put on paper, sometimes sad and sometimes happy. It all translates to the same language when a piece is complete. 

Receive more inspiring stories and news from incarcerated people around the world.