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Inmates in Education Justice Project organize art exhibition on display at YMCA

by Dusty Rhodes / Aug 28, 2012

AUGUST 28, 2012, UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS NEWS BUREAU, Dusty Rhodes — An art exhibition opening Aug. 30 (Thursday) in the Murphy Gallery at the University YMCA will feature drawings and paintings created by inmates of the Danville Correctional Center, a medium- to high-security prison for men. The exhibition was coordinated by five prisoners enrolled in the University of Illinois Education Justice Project – part of the College of Education – which provides upper-level college courses, workshops and seminars to inmates who have already earned 60 or more hours of college credit.

EJP doesn’t offer courses in art, but Rebecca Ginsburg, associate professor in EPOL and director of EJP, said a handful of EJP students initiated and developed the art exhibition. Since none of them had ever attended an art show, bringing this idea to reality provided learning opportunities. They created a flier seeking inmate art, distributed it throughout the prison, and curated the submissions, accepting every piece that met their “family-friendly” criteria. After studying a variety of art exhibition catalogs, they called a meeting of the 15 men whose work will be displayed, and taught them how to write artists’ statements introducing their work.

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Above photo: Chris Garner, left, created this painting of a couple sharing a ceremonial drink from a gourd as a wedding gift for a friend. Photo provided by Education Justice Project.

Below: Some of the entries in the exhibit.