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Prison arts show comes to Eastern's Art Gallery

Published on March 15, 2023

Prison arts show comes to Eastern's Art Gallery

poster for exhibit
The poster for the exhibit features a sculpture by James D.E. Scott, "The Church of the Angels."

The Art Gallery at Eastern Connecticut State University will present the 43rd Prison Arts Program from March 20–April 22, featuring new artwork from artists currently or formerly incarcerated in Connecticut. An opening reception will occur March 23 from 4–7 p.m. in the Art Gallery located in the Fine Arts Instructional Center at 306 High Street, Willimantic.

The show features some 350 drawings, paintings, sculptures and carpentry projects. Besides traditional art media, the exhibit includes art made with soap, woven paper bags, food packaging and other unusual materials.

The show includes works by artists exhibiting for the first time as well as new artwork from established artists. It covers works made over the past two years, since last year’s exhibit was suspended due to COVID-19.

Regular gallery hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from noon to 4 p.m.; Tuesday and Thursday, noon to 7 p.m.; and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The show is free and open to the public.

The Prison Arts Program, the longest-running program of the criminal justice nonprofit Community Partners in Action (CPA), began in 1978 inside Connecticut prisons “to positively and constructively change the lives of the incarcerated and the prison environment by encouraging unique, personal and evolving artistic pursuits,” according to the CPA. “Participants develop purpose, creativity, self-discipline, work ethic, self-esteem, technical and communication skill development, thoughtfulness, introspection, critical thinking and calm.”

The exhibition at Eastern and the Prison Arts Program are supported by Bank of America, the J. Walton Bissell Foundation, the Common Sense Fund, the Connecticut Department of Correction, the Greater Hartford Arts Council, the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving and individual contributors and collaborating organizations.

Written by Lucinda Weiss