April 15th is World Art Day and as a prison doctor who did 30 years behind bars, I couldn’t help but think of the artistic talent and the type of art I saw behind those prison walls. What struck me was not only how good the art was, but how many of the incarcerated only learned about their talent and interest in art when they found themselves incarcerated. Art was also one of the few ways that they could express their feelings, emotions and what they longed for without getting into trouble.
It made me wonder how many of the incarcerated never actualized their underlying talents, because they lacked the opportunity or support. Many because of their environment and circumstances dropped out of the educational system early and shifted to the survival mode. Prison can be another environment where it is all about survival, but prison can also be an environment where education and artistic expression is valued.
I recently saw this epitomized in Western Nevada College, which is only a few miles from where I live. Their Director of Prison Education, Deb Conrad, has put together a virtual art auction of inmate art to raise money for the program. Many studies show the impact of education on the incarcerated and their ability to re-integrate into society and not come back to prison. I also had the opportunity to watch how education and teachers who cared, helped and transformed the lives of the incarcerated.
If you love art and believe in education take a look at Western Nevada College’s virtual auction and make a bid. https://is.gd/XJHpwn