Kenneth’s Gallery

Kenneth’s Gallery

 

Artist Kenneth, 69

Incarcerated: 23 years 
Housed: Stateville Correctional Center, Joliet, Illinois

I express my reality through art and poetry. My biggest regret is failing my son. I take responsibility for him sitting in the cell right above me. Despite all the things that challenge us as black men, I fail him as a father.

My art is born out of the many social injustice issues that we face day to day; such as the school to prison pipeline, protests and to black lives matter. There are proud moments, to man’s call and dependence on something higher than himself.  I paint and write with the purpose and intent to provoke thought and conversation. I ask you for your feedback and suggestions and if it motivates you to get involved in helping the marginalization of the black and brown. We are often forgotten.

Khiem, 41

Khiem, 41

Meet Khiem…

Through art I found a connection to my son. And through drawing I guided him to express his feelings in a positive way.

Incarcerated: 11 years

I have a son named Jason. Being a father who is far away, I needed to find a way to connect to my son. When I got locked up, he was nearly two. On his second birthday, I wanted to send him a card. I told myself I would learn how to draw so I could draw for him and everyone who supports me out there. I found that drawing was not only helping me build our relationship, It was also a way to express my emotions, a productive way to spend my time and it helped me focus and I’ve learned to be patient. It turned into a therapy which took me out of prison. I draw flowers, birds, koi fishes, and Spiderman, my son’s favorite superhero. I am also helping him to express his feelings through art. I could confidently say we finally found a common ground that we can talk about whenever I call home. Today, I would like to share my story and my little drawing. I hope by my sharing, it will help lift people up and help them find peace. I drew for peace in Ukraine, tensions in Southeast Asia, etc. I want to wish the world a peaceful moment. I was the kid who was growing up after the war. I’ve experienced that path and I had to move to a whole different country. I left behind everything and struggled for a new life. So peace is what I wish for, not only in the world, but for all of us incarcerated, who live in a negative environment. The blossom flowers represent a better life, better moments under the moonlight, under the darkest times. Even if the flower could blossom under the moonlight, so do we- right! 

Thank you for asking me to write and thank you for giving me the opportunity to express my feelings. I would say expressing feelings through art is one of the most powerful, positive ways which I wish I could have learned a long time ago (before I committed my crime). Through art I found a connection to my son. And through drawing I guided him to express his feelings in a positive way.

Through drawing I found a connection to my son. And through drawing I guided him to express his feelings in a positive way. He is now 13 and interesting in cooking, I am glad he found something positive to do and help cope with his daily problems.

Michael, 40

Michael, 40

Meet Michael…

We were called to love one another to value others more than ourselves.

Michael, 40
Incarcerated: 4 years
Housed: San Quentin State Prison

It was another beautiful sunny day in Southern California that turned dark real quick. I am a father to three handsome boys Isaac, Ethan and Andrew. I am a happily married man of fifteen years to a beautiful woman named, Marissa. I was active in my church, our community and a manager at Costco. Unfortunately, I am also the reason for that dark day four years ago. My reckless actions and my selfish choice to disregard the lives of everyone else on the road that day, took the life of a fellow brother in Christ. Officer Steve was the victim of my conscious disregard for others. The impact of my decision to drink and drive created a ripple effect felt by his family, his friends, my family and those in our community. I pray daily that God’s saving grace, His manifested mercy and love has poured into the hearts of those victimized by my premeditated choice, to take my keys after four hours of drinking, and put them into the ignition. I know I don’t deserve God’s grace for the pain and suffering I caused. I do believe God’s grace changes people so we can do good works. Because of this unmerited gift do I have comfort, strength, love and support to get through each day. He alone can bring out prisoners, those who sit in darkness, and free us from the bondage of our sins. He gives me opportunities to exhibit grace daily, by educating many, that drinking and driving is not normal. It is like playing Russian Roulette, except your car is the gun, you are the bullet and everyone else is the target. The more you do it, someone will get hurt. Don’t let that be a choice you make or you too can take a life. I am writing to help raise awareness. I appreciate the many opportunities we have to speak on our crimes and our actions. I see the Humans of San Quentin as one of the platforms for the incarcerated to reach out to the free community. I knew little about the system and those incarcerated but it is good to bring an education to others. I hope the stories leave the readers feeling that we are people rehabilitating, maturing and gaining an understanding of the choices that put us in here. A humanness factor to the facade of a prisoner.

James, 74

James, 74

Meet James…

One of my greatest regrets is missing my grandchildren growing up. I was thrilled to be a grandfather, I would have been a great one. I missed it all.

Incarcerated: 15 years

I married my highschool sweetheart in September of 1967. Eight months later I was drafted into the U.S. Army. Two years later I got out and James Jr and Jason were soon born. I worked for the Southern Pacific Railroad for 25 years. When I was arrested in 2007, I had three grandchildren all under the age of five. Sometimes it feels like I’ve been in here for 100 years. With the pay phone I’m able to talk to my sons and grandchildren weekly. I know my grandchildren love me even though they know I’m in prison and why I’m here. I think of my family daily, I miss them terribly. My grandchildren were babies when I came to prison. I really don’t know what it’s like to be a grandfather on the street. I can’t get that time back, it’s gone forever. One of my greatest regrets is missing my grandchildren growing up. I was thrilled to be a grandfather, I would have been a great one. I missed it all. I have lived in a cage like an animal for 15 years. I’ve been treated like an animal for 15 years. It’s been a challenge not to become an animal. I have taken many self-help groups including non-violent communication and Restorative Justice. I’m currently in Guiding Rage Into Power (GRIP). The COVID quarantines have made life in here more difficult. I just want to go home and if they allow me to get out, I can get to know my grandchildren. I’m not a threat to anyone. 📸James would like you to meet his family, especially his grandchildren – Brianna 19, Keeley 18, Jacob 16 and Delaney 12.

Albert, 55

Meet Albert…

My son died when he was 16. He was playing football and was hit in the head, three days later he died. I was in Salinas Valley State prison at the time, man that was the ugliest feeling in my life. I knew I had to change my lifestyle and I had to start caring about myself and the impact I was having on others.

Incarcerated: 1 year

This is my fifth prison in one year. I started this way of life at the age of nine. My family are all gang members. My dad was a leader of one of the Chicano movements. My step dad was a Texas mobster. Both of them have been in prison and were drug users. My mom had all kinds of boyfriends. I never knew my dad. I just heard a lot about him. Because of my step dad’s reputation, his name was all over the county, that’s how I had a lot of pull. My life was under rules and leaders, when I first came to prison I thought I was all that. Boy I could tell you a lot of stuff but people will take it wrong. Today, I am so so sorry for the way I behaved. I was stupid.  I was a follower. My son died when he was 16. He was playing football and was hit in the head, three days later he died. I was in Salinas Valley State prison at the time, man that was the ugliest feeling in my life. I knew I had to change my lifestyle and I had to start caring about myself and the impact I was having on others.