“They can take our bodies but not our minds”: Artistic creation in the prisons of Maine – MAINE ART SCENE MAGAZINE

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(Portland, ME) The Union of Visual Artists of Maine (UMVA) is proud to present Freedom & Captivity: Maine Voices Beyond Prison Walls featuring artwork by incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people. The exhibit will open at the Portland Media Center (516 Congress Street in Portland) at 5:00 p.m. on Friday, September 3, 2021 to be included in the First Friday Art Walk. A reception will follow the opening until 8:00 p.m. The show will remain visible until October 29, 2021.

About the exhibition

How to escape the restrictive walls when you are imprisoned? People living in correctional facilities in Maine have found that artistic creation allows their imaginations to soar.

Residents of Maine prisons express their lived experiences, hopes and dreams in the art they create. Their works challenge stereotypes and emphasize that we are all more than the worst deed we have ever done. Through their art, those who live inside convey the following message: “We are whole people with loves and losses, skills, talents, ideas and gifts. . . and a desire to be free.

Even living in prison, creativity can roam free. Asked about the power of artistic creation within, one inmate, Chris, said, “They can take our body, but not our mind.”

The exhibition presents works of art made in and out of isolation in a place already completely separated from the outside world. Until July, the COVID-19 pandemic isolated residents from each other and from their art. Access to formal art materials was restricted during the height of the pandemic.

While the Maine State Prison has an art program, residents are limited in time, space, and access to materials. A resident, Russ, tore up found paper bags and drew blooming flowers on one and a chameleon perched on a tree branch on the other. For Russ, drawing and creativity remain his lifeline to happiness.

*To learn more about the initiative, click on here.

In addition to visual arts, textile arts and sculpture, the exhibit will also include digital files of the voices of residents reading poetry and playing music. From songs written for the girls to paintings made for loved ones who have passed away without the possibility of farewell, the work centers the humanity of the inmates, allowing the viewer to connect with the artists on the community of interest, love and community. individual care.

From Friday to Sunday, the gallery will be occupied by people who have already been imprisoned or who have relatives who are. The show is offered by the Maine Prisoner Advocacy Coalition with assistance from the Maine Department of Corrections in support of the Freedom and Captivity initiative.

The opening hours of the gallery are Tuesday to Thursday 10:00 am to 5:00 pm; Friday from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. To learn more about the exhibition, click on here.

About the Union of Visual Artists of Maine

UMVA is a national organization of artists and supporters of the arts who work for social progress in and through the arts. The UMVA Gallery is located at 516 Congress Street in Portland’s Arts District. For more information on UMVA and membership, please visit www.theumva.org.

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