DENVER – The Community Commons Gallery at the University of Denver is currently home to a new art exhibit that features works of art created by incarcerated artists.
“We work in collaboration with the organization Chained Voices. We sent out a call for art through the Corrections Department and to every prison in the state. Then after that, people picked up the submission packages, ”said Ashley Hamilton, executive director of the DU Prison Arts Initiative.
Four hundred pieces have been chosen for the show and around 40 pieces are exhibited at the DU.
“Most of the artists you see here are self-taught. So my job and that of the organization is really to create a space for their work to be in the world, ”said Hamilton.
Hamilton said many artists currently behind bars have told him that through their work they feel a sense of connection with the community.
But Hamilton admitted that the sense of connection may be dismissed by some in the outside world.
“I understand that point of view, especially from the point of view of people who have suffered harm and I never want to devalue that or disrespect that. But what I’ve seen day after day in my career is that when there are spaces behind the wall that are devoid of opportunities like this, it actually results in more damage in the long run ” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said the purpose of the art exhibit is to provide rehabilitation and remind the community of the artist’s humanity.
“I hope the bottom line is that the people inside are part of our community, and I know it’s complicated and it’s complex for some,” Hamilton said.
Hamilton said she hopes this art and the talent it contains pique the curiosity of society about who is behind bars.
The art is for sale and the money goes directly to the artist.
The entire collection can be viewed in line and in person at DU’s Community Commons Gallery and the Cottonwood Center for Arts in Colorado Springs.