William, ‘Peedie Weedie’, 35

Meet William, ‘Peedie Weedie’…

Truth be told, I’ve never been anything more than just a pothead.

Incarcerated: 20 years
Housed: Mark Stiles Unit – Beaumont, Texas

I’ve never been anything like a real big and bad serious gangster or anything like that. At 19 I got caught up dealing and messing around with a guy that meant me no good. I had lost my job, out of desperation for money, I let him talk me into hitting up a restaurant. Truth be told, I’ve never been anything more than just a pothead. Real deal – I haven’t been with a woman in over 15 years. I was a dad before I left. If a man was able to be intimate with his wife at least once a year, it just might lower the divorce rate or motivate a brother to stay out of trouble.

Aharon, 44

Aharon, 44

Meet Aharon…

I’ve had two strokes in the past year and I’m confined to a wheelchair. – in addition to having PTSD and Cardio Pulmonary Disease. Despite the odds, I struggle every day to make tomorrow better than today.

Incarcerated: 27 years
Housed: Mark Stiles Unit, Beaumont, Texas

Life is a dream which disappears each day I awake in my 6’x9’ steel and concrete cell. In a perfect world, prisoners are incarcerated for the ultimate purpose of receiving adequate and meaningful education and rehabilitation. If these laws were effectively used, the goal of incarceration would succeed. Yet, the Prison Industrial Complex disregards all policy programming and services, as discretionary. The sole discretion placed on the prison admin officials. We are forced to fend for ourselves. To sink or swim with the sharks. The system in place given to the public servants. We are dependent upon them for guidance and rehabilitation. The neglectful focus on sentencing oversight towards education and rehabilitation, mold us into more anti-social and self-reliant people who must trust the system. A system built upon free labor of Texas prisoners – blood, sweat, and tears for the most basic essentials for existence. While enduring brutal treatment, in a volatile and hostile environment. It is extremely hard to buck the system while using the laws and statutes established. We’re told to abide by the law or suffer its consequences. Yet, when we do use the courts to redress our issues we suffer even greater recriminations and oppression. Then they turn their backs and forget the purpose of our incarceration. If we are not given the rights we so desperately need, then, into the mouth of the lion we dive. The lion suffers. It’s hard to chew when I use the system against the system with procedures of wrongs committed upon state citizens. Save the Constitution. Still, I hold true to myself: a stalwart soldier of the Civil Rights Movement. An American patriot of Israeli-Jewish ancestry. An advocate and activist for positive and productive global advancement. Learning to see everyone succeed in life, rather than mere existence. A light sent by society into a place of darkness. Bringing light back into the world by correcting the wrongs.

Cedrick’s Gallery

Cedrick’s Gallery

 

Artist Cedrick, 38

Creative Educational Damage

If my original artwork could be summed up in three words, it’s creative, educational and damage. They are also an acronym for my initials. When I put my art pieces together my goal is to stir something up inside and to formulate interpretations. I hope this creative experience will spill over into your life. If I can educate others, it pleases me very much. Damage, I believe, grabs people’s attention and brings lasting change. Some of my art will express situations most artists veer away from. As humans if we are not allocating for true change within our society, how can there be true unity?

As a fat kid, I used drawing as an escape and still do. Once I learned I could visually put my thoughts on paper and pass hours of the day creating my world, I fell in love with art. As a child, I enjoyed tackling the hardest situations. That’s why I took up portraiture. Understanding human anatomy and how it works together is fascinating to me. You must understand the inner before learning the outer.

One of my main inspirations was Leonardo DaVinci. His creativity taught me that everything in life is art. With that knowledge, I came to the realization that life is art and art is life. The reason I submitted my art was to simply let people experience the artistic feelings it gives and hopefully give them the feeling of love visually through my eyes.

The definition of art is “A Human Creative skill activity resulting in the visual representation of nature.” Life is Art and Art is Life.

Fabian’s Gallery

Fabian’s Gallery

I have enclosed a picture of me / my artwork in the making. It’s a portrait of a husband / wife done in my signature style called “stippling” (dots). It takes some time to do but is so-o-o detailed.

 

Artist Fabian, 43

At 16, I was released from a hospital for depression, suicide attempt and substance abuse. My sister introduced me to art and I quickly fell in love with the POP art movement. I submitted to depression and drugs a year or so later, and wouldn’t rediscover my passion for art until I was sentenced to a 99 year sentence for murder. For several years I nurtured the dream of being a filmmaker. Art is mainly a hustle now. I do portraits for guys in exchange for books, magazines, and commissary. The books and magazines are always about the movie-making and screenwriting craft, and sometimes business. Whatever can give me a better edge toward accomplishing my goals. I plan to have an art company upon my release, which will include: portraits, kids’ rooms, and murals in order to fund my filmmaking goals. Fortunately for me, my sister is an assistant curator for the Museum of Fine Arts, Huston.

 

Christine, 44

Christine, 44

Meet Christine…

…As the years have gone by, I know with more and more certainty that the state of Texas is what God used to discipline my stubborn butt. I needed correction and humility. I also needed healing mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Incarcerated: 9 years
Housed: Hilltop Unit-Trustee Camp, Gatesville, Texas

I was a college student working at Goodwill and trying to make it after divorcing my husband. I know now that I shouldn’t have given up on my marriage so fast, but some things become clearer with hindsight. It felt like my life was over. I was given a 20 year aggravated sentence and had to serve at least half before I could see parole for the first time. I wouldn’t be going anywhere until I was at least 45 years old. The worst part, I was leaving my three kids, Mathew (9), Luke (4), and Sofia (2). I’m not there to raise them. I decided years ago not to let the circumstances of my charge make me bitter. Instead I am using this time to make myself better. I’ve stayed positive, took every self-help class offered, earned an associate’s degree and now I’m in truck driving class to get my CDL. Quite literally, it’s been a wild ride recently. I’ve formed a strong bond with my fellow CDL classmates and we help one another, build one another up rather than tearing each other down. We teach the new girls as they come in by giving them helpful hints and tips that our teacher may not think of. I’ll admit…I practically hated the state of Texas at first – as I was done very dirty by the prosecution. As the years have gone by, I know with more and more certainty that the state of Texas is what God used to discipline my stubborn butt. I needed correction and humility. I also needed healing mentally, emotionally and spiritually. I’m so much better that I was before, no more brokenness. And now I’m sober to boot. My life isn’t over. I was wrong. It’s just beginning. One more year of prison, then I can go home. But I’ve been “free” for five years now. Praise God. 📸