‘Exploring the Arts Within Prison’ exhibition opens downtown

~ By Lucero Benitez, communications specialist for the College of Social Sciences, reprinted from FresnoStateNews.com

An exhibition of artwork by incarcerated men at Avenal State Prison will be on display at Fresno State’s Graduate Art Studios at the M Street Arts Complex in downtown Fresno from April 5 to 22.

The exhibition, “Insider Art: Exploring the Arts within Prison Environments,” showcases over 100 pieces of paintings, drawings, sculpture and small pieces of craftwork. All of the work was created by incarcerated individuals who are part of the Arts in Corrections program at the male-only state prison just outside the town of Avenal.

Over the past two years, Criminology Department chair Dr. Emma Hughes established a relationship with the prison to give criminology students the opportunity to see how the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation operates.

Hughes was impressed by the murals around the prison created by incarcerated men, and she learned about the arts program.

“It seemed a shame that so much beautiful work and, really, painstaking work, was being produced in this environment but that only a few people were getting to see it,” Hughes said. “And it just seemed really beneficial for people in the community to be able to see it and also for the men who had produced this work to have a wider audience for what they were accomplishing.”

Hughes partnered at Fresno State with the College of Social Sciences, the College of Arts and Humanities, the Center for Creativity and the Arts, the Department of Art and Design and Project Rebound to display the artwork at the Graduate Art Studios downtown.

The exhibition is part of the Center for Creativity and the Arts’ theme for the year: “Voice and Silence: Expressions of the Human Spirit and Community.” It will also feature performances by men who participate in the prison’s music program and the Actors’ Gang theater program. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear and see performances on monitors displayed in the gallery. The men will talk about the impact the arts have had in their lives.

Photographs taken by Neil Chowdhury, photography assistant professor in the Department of Art and Design, will give insight to the arts inside the prison.

A panel discussion will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on April 4 at the Alice Peters Auditorium in the Leon S. Peters University Business Center at Fresno State. Panelists include Rosemary Ndoh, Avenal State Prison warden, and Doug Snell, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation lieutenant.

The exhibition will open as part of ArtHop from 5 to 8 p.m. on April 5, with opening remarks at 6 p.m. Regular gallery hours are noon to 4 p.m. Friday through Sunday. Weekday viewings are available by appointment.

For more information, contact Lucero Benitez at lbenitez@csufresno.edu or 559.278.4381.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

3 thoughts on “‘Exploring the Arts Within Prison’ exhibition opens downtown

    1. Hello Kelli. There is not a link to view it online, but the Center for Creativity and the Arts is working on creating a catalog highlighing the art. It should be published in May. You can get additional information by contacting Cindy Urrutia at currutia@csufresno.edu.

      Liked by 1 person

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