“Light from Inside: Art from Illinois Prisons” Chicago Cultural Center August 11-September 28, 2008
Chicago, June 19, 2008 – Inmate art has interested psychologists, sociologists, writers, and sympathetic artists for decades and now that creativity is open to the general public who can view an exhibit of art created by inmates from Illinois correctional institutions. “Light from Inside: Art from Illinois Prisons” will display approximately 100 works in a variety of techniques and media at the Chicago Cultural Center, August 11 through September 28, 2008, sponsored by the John Howard Association of Illinois, the State’s only reform group.
“Light from Inside” features artists from the most restrictive Illinois prisons including Pontiac, Dwight, Menard, Stateville, Lawrence, Pinkneyville, Western, Hill and Tamms Supermax facilities. Most of the artists are long-term prisoners and “lifers” who are self-taught and have worked at their craft without the usual tools of an artist.
Members of the Art Committee of the John Howard Association, with the help of the Illinois Department of Corrections, gathered the art work from visiting prisons, meeting the prisoners and bringing the art to Chicago. “It is fascinating to visit with the artists and get the story behind their work. The work represents more than the vision; it represents an escape into another realm for the incarcerated man and woman. Many of the artists must be inventive with the medium they use since few of the prisons have art supplies,” said Cynthia Kobel, a member of the Committee.
Cornelius Ames has built a three-dimensional sculpture of a miniature fortress with bricks made out of newspaper and water, using newspaper and toothpaste for mortar. Others have used bed sheets and discarded paper as canvases. In the past, many artists used soap to create pieces of sculpture, but were ultimately prohibited from using it because the Department of Corrections deemed the use of soap “destruction of state property”. Other inmates have created art using plastic mirrors etched with staple points. Some have pieced together envelopes to create poster-size paintings. At Tamms Supermax prison the only tool for creating art is a four inch flexible ink pen tube, but men there have found that they can use Jell-O and candy to create color.
An opening reception will be held on August 18, 2008. Tickets may be purchased for $30.00 per person at the door or $25 beforehand through the John Howard Association by phoning (312) 782-1901. Wine, beer and refreshments will be served. Friends and family of the prisoners will be on hand to walk visitors through the exhibits.
“Light from Inside: Art from Illinois Prisons” will be on exhibit at the location of the John Howard Association’s Annual Luncheon on September 18, 2008 at noon.
Jeffrey D. Colman, Esq. will be the speaker at the John Howard Association of Illinois’s Annual Luncheon at noon on September 18, 2008 at the Chicago Cultural Center. Mr. Coleman is well-known as an attorney with Jenner & Block, where he has represented small and large corporations, partnerships, and class action litigation. He has represented African-American home purchases in discrimination litigation and has litigated death penalty cases in Georgia and Illinois.
Mr. Colman is currently a key member of the team of lawyers defending prisoners confined by the United States government at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba.
The John Howard Association of Illinois provides oversight of the state’s prisons, jails and juvenile correctional facilities. As it has for more than a century, the Association promotes fair, humane, and effective sentencing and correctional policies, addresses inmate concerns, and provides Illinois citizens and decision-makers with information needed to improve criminal and juvenile justice.