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Creativity within Confinement: Prisoner art benefits Arizona nonprofit

(Twitter photos/@CCS_ASU)

PHOENIX — August’s First Friday event in downtown Phoenix showcased art for a good cause from unlikely artists.

Prisoners from the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence created hundreds of pieces to be displayed in the art show entitled Incarceration: Creativity within Confinement.

Caitlin Matekel is a Ph.D student at the Center for Correctional Solutions in the Watts College of Public Service at Arizona State University. She works with the prisoners and helped to put on the show.

“It’s just like a normal art show – like any one you’ve ever been to – except all the work comes from the inside,” Matekel said.

She said they wanted the men making the art to have a say in where the money went.

“They want to find a way to give back to the younger generation and especially troubled youth.”

They eventually decided on Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona, which she said was the perfect match for the program.

“It’s a charity that works with abused and traumatized children who have experienced violence or homelessness and provides art therapy and different programming.

“What better charity than someone who is doing art if we’re selling art? That connection, we thought was really good and the guys all love it,” she said.

The art show featured about 260 pieces ranging in price and in style.

“We have the most vast range of talent, of creativity, of just types of work,” Matekel said. “Things on paper, things on large canvases, things that are in black and white, things that are from pencil, paint, airbrush, everything. Pretty much every medium you can think of, we have in the show.”

Ultimately, Matekel said the art show is a win for everyone involved.

“It’s an opportunity for the guys on the inside to really hone in on their creativity, and their talents and to spend their time really positively,” she said. “It’s an opportunity for the community to obviously buy this amazing art work but then the money, and the artwork and the time gets to go into this charity.”

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