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Annual prison art exhibit celebrates 13th with new documentary

ANN ARBOR: The Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) celebrates the Thirteenth Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners with the official premiere of the new Michigan Television (PBS) documentary, “Acts of Art: The Prison Creative Arts Project,” soon to be broadcast state-wide on Michigan PBS stations.

This documentary, by filmmaker Katherine Weider, highlights PCAP’s artists and activists as they strive for social justice through the creative arts. 

The annual exhibition, which runs March 25-April 9, 2008, will be held at the Duderstadt Center Gallery on the University of Michigan North Campus at 2281 Bonisteel Boulevard. 

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Over the past decade, this nationally recognized show has grown to be the largest exhibition of prisoner art in the country.  This year's exhibition will include more than 300 works of art by over 200 artists, shedding light on the talents to be found behind prison walls and inviting the public to bear witness to the prison artists' creativity and expression. 

Free and open to the public, the exhibition and its eight educational events raise awareness and inspire dialogue between the incarcerated and the community at large. The public is invited to an opening reception on March 25th from 5:30 - 8 p.m. in the gallery.  Formerly incarcerated artists who have now reentered into the community will speak about what the show means to those in prison.

Participating artists express gratitude to organizers and gallery visitors alike, stressing the show's empowering force: “Without [the exhibition] we would be silenced.  You let our voice be heard.” Another artist comments, “The exhibition captured the attention of humanity. It showed that prisoners or inmates are still human beings with a heart and a soul, and that our art is a way to express ourselves without words.”

Despite limited resources, exhibition artists create work in a rich range of styles, mediums, and themes.  Visitors return to the show year after year to glimpse art that is remarkable for its originality, beauty, and sheer expressive power.  Last year, almost 4,000 people came to the exhibit. Organizers expect even higher attendance this year and an exciting array of new work. 

This year’s exhibition, curated by Professors Buzz Alexander, Janie Paul, and Jason Wright, exhibits work from over forty prisons throughout the state.  The curators, PCAP


Administrator Rachael Hudak, and various volunteers travel to these prisons to hand select the strongest work from the artists. As a result of this annual event, the amount of art created in Michigan prisons has increased dramatically, and Michigan prison artists have become national leaders, inspiring others to create art behind bars.

Along with the documentary and discussion with former prison artists, the exhibition will be accompanied by keynote speeches by critically-acclaimed youth activist, Luis Rodríguez, poet Judith Tannenbaum, and Shawnna Demmons from the California Coalition for Women Prisoners. Ashley Lucas will perform her one-woman show Doin’ Time both at the Performance Network in Ann Arbor and at the Detroit YMCA.  For a full list of events please see attached schedule.

Exhibition hours are 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday, and 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. Sunday - Monday.

Watch a brief preview of the PBS documentary “Acts of Art: The Prison Creative Arts Project” at:





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