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Washington Corrections Center Inmates’ Art Featured In Exhibition at The Evergreen State College

January 14, 2016

By Rachel Friederich

DOC Communications

A black and white perspective photo of the art class.

A black and white perspective photo of the art class. (Tim Kelly , DOC Communications) See photo gallery...

OLYMPIA – To outsiders, the word prison often conjures up images of sliding steel bars and concrete walls. It’s not often thought of as a place of inspiration for aspiring artists.

A dozen inmates from Washington Corrections Center (WCC) have demonstrated their artistic talents and will have several pieces of art inside an upcoming exhibit at The Evergreen State College called “Prison Obscura,” which runs from Jan. 14-March 2. The exhibit is free, but there is a $2 campus parking fee for visitors.

The inmate art gallery, “Confined Creations,” will be housed in the Daniel J. Evans library. It features various mediums of art, including bead and jewelry work, quilting, drawings and paintings. There are also several origami pieces with hundreds of individually folded papers.

Creating art has a profound and soothing effect on inmates, according to Gregory Garringer, a chaplain at WCC who helped coordinate the selection of inmates’ art for the exhibit. Many of the inmates’ pieces were created by inmates at the prison’s “Art Spirit” class, which began at the prison three years ago.

“This has been an opportunity for adult incarcerated men to make positive choices starting with their arts and crafts seen on display,” Garringer said. “One of the men in the classes said, ‘Though our bodies are confined, our minds are free to create without limitation—all save for what we place upon ourselves’.”

Members of the public can view the inmates’ art from 8:45 a.m. – 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, from 10:30 a.m. – 6:15 p.m. Saturday and from noon – 7:45 p.m. Sundays throughout the duration of the exhibit.

Other galleries in “Prison Obscura” include “Creativity Can’t Be Incarcerated,” which highlights artwork from the Gateways for Incarcerated Youth program at Chehalis’ Green Hill School and “Captured Youth,” a series of portraits of juvenile inmates by Steve Davis, the college’s coordinator of photography and media curator. The exhibit also has a series of scheduled talks and lectures. Dates, times and locations can be viewed at the gallery’s website.