Creating art inside prison walls

The Detroit News
An exhibition at the Duderstadt Center Gallery at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor showcases the work of prisoners in the state.

Artists ranging in age from 18 to 80 have turned out art work in a diverse range of expression, from landscapes, portraits, sculptures, political statements and prison scenes in a new exhibition at the University of Michigan.

Prison scenes, and the other works, are personal: The men and women are incarcerated. Their art work is featured in an exhibition aimed at showcasing the “rich humanity” of inmates, according to the University of Michigan’s Prison Creative Arts Project.

Ink, graphite and color pencil entitled 'Emotional Battle' by Gene Zamora. The 24th Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners at the Duderstadt Center Gallery on the campus of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan on March 22, 2019. (Image by Daniel Mears / The Detroit News)

“It’s a curated show” said Graham Hamilton, program coordinator. “We don’t take all of the work that we see. We show good work and we highlight the talent and the emotion of people inside.”

A crocheted motorcycle by Samantha Bachynski

Samantha Bachynski created “Crocheted Motorcycle” by crocheting each part of the bike and then assembling them together, according to a news release for the exhibition.

“Not knowing anything about motorcycles when she started, she studied books and magazines to understand the bike’s structure.”

Colored pencil piece by Christopher A. Levitt entitled 'The Painter: a Portrait of Prison.'

Another artist, Oliger Merko, created a painting, “Evening Yard Crew,” which “elevates the simple gestures of shoveling snow on the yard into a radiant moment of glowing light and color.” In “The Painter: A Portrait of Prison,” Christopher Levitt shows life behind bars.

Carboard, glue, acrylic, tissue paper piece entitled 'Dragon Butterfly Sculpture' by Crowley.

Most pieces are for sale. The artists receive the proceeds.

The works of 574 artists from 26 facilities in Michigan are featured at the Duderstadt Center Gallery on the University of Michigan North Campus at 2281 Bonisteel Blvd.