Over the past 17 years, 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 encouraging the public to take a second look.
Free and open to the public, the exhibition and surrounding 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 20th from 5:30 - 8 p.m. in the gallery. Formerly incarcerated artists who have now re-entered 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 impact on their lives and the community at large. “I believe that your program gives the public a glimpse into the type of things that inspire even the most downtrodden of us all” writes one artist. “When people see our work, for a few moments, they forget that this work was done by a felon, but by another human being. A human being who has the same thoughts, emotions, and inspirations as they do, and for that one moment, a major social and political barrier is shattered.”
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, over 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 Buzz Alexander, Janie Paul, Sari Adelson, and Jason Wright, exhibits work from over forty prisons throughout the state. The curator along with 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.
The exhibition is to be accompanied by the release of the 4th Annual Literary Review of Creative Writing by Michigan Prisoners, readings of works from the publication by formerly incarcerated individuals are set to take place both in Ann Arbor and in the Detroit area, and youth from Detroit will join us for a dialog about what’s on their minds, as they speak about their lives and their communities. For full schedule of events please contact the PRISON CREATIVE ARTS PROJECT.
Exhibition hours are 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. Tuesday - Saturday, and 12 p.m. - 6 p.m. Sunday - Monday.