Con-Scious Expressions: An Inside Perspective
This exhibition was made possible through a partnership among the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, Restorative Justice Volunteers Libby Fisher and Erica Averion, and the Walton Correctional Institution (WCI), which is the Florida state prison in DeFuniak Springs, FL. “Con-scious Expressions: An Inside Perspective” showcases original work created by men incarcerated in one of WCI’s dorms, including Faith & Character, Re-entry, and Veterans/Honor, in which the Restorative Justice Volunteers have been developing outreach programs for and relationships with the nearly 300 residents.
When the project was announced to the men, they were asked to submit title ideas for the exhibition. Over 30 titles were submitted, and the one selected was by Michael George who states, “I chose this title because I truly believe that our prisons house many talented men and women. However, most of the media coverage of prisons and prisoners will never show that. Many of us are just broken individuals who made a poor choice in a moment of weakness. Our art creations are conscious expressions of our joy, pain, despair, and hope. The exhibit will hopefully give those who see it a glimpse of our humanity as well as an appreciation of our creativity.”
"This art exhibit was born organically from friendships among South Walton women. CAA Executive Director Jennifer Steele mentioned to CAA board member Mimi Gavigan her goal to create a jail/prison art outreach program,” says Restorative Justice volunteer Libby Fisher. “Mimi knew of the volunteer work that Erica and I were doing, and so we met, brainstormed and developed the idea of the art exhibit. The administration at Walton Correctional Institute was enthusiastic and supportive. We hope to show the public the talent and humanity of people in prison."
“Con-scious Expressions: An Inside Perspective” is what the CAA hopes will be the first of many exhibitions featuring work by incarcerated men and women in Walton County and the state of Florida. The CAA believes it is the inherent right of all human beings to have broad access to arts experiences. To support a full creative life for all, the CAA is committed to championing policies and practices that empower a just, inclusive, equitable community and nation.
This exhibit can be viewed at Emerald Coast Theatre Company through December 20, 2020 and on the CAA’s website through next Spring.