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Inmate Art Featured in Studio Show in Forks

March 10, 2017

By Rachel Friederich

DOC Communications

two pencil drawings of a native american chief and a western cowboy

Drawings created by inmates from Clallam Bay Corrections Center recently featured in a gallery exhibit in Forks, WA. (Fay Gingell, Clallam Bay Corrections Center)

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FORKS — When most people think of prison, they envision steel bars and razor wire. It's not often thought of as a place that inspires creativity.

The Upper Left Studio recently showcased about 25 pieces of art created by inmates at the Clallam Bay Corrections Center (CBCC) and Mission Creek Corrections Center for Women (MCCCW). The exhibit, which concluded in February, featured various types art including wildlife scenes and portraits of Native Americans intricately done with ballpoint pen, acrylic paint, and other mediums.

The idea for the exhibit was to make viewers aware of the different types of artists in their own neighborhoods, according to Jaymi Goetze, owner of the Upper Left Studio.

"I wanted to make sure our community knows these gentlemen aren't just inmates behind bars, but phenomenal artists."

Art can have a profound effect on inmates, as well, according to Fay Gingell, a spokeswoman for CBCC. It helps reduce idleness, stimulates intellect and gives inmates a sense of accomplishment, which results in improved safety around the facility by creating a calming environment for the inmates.

"They love art because it's a way to relieve stress and put their feelings on paper," Gingell said. "These guys are proud to show off the things they're good at and feel like it's something special to create something the community appreciates."

The inmate art exhibit was the first exhibit for the studio, which opened in December. Goetze said the exhibit was well-received by visitors and she would like to display more inmate art at her studio on a regular basis.

The Upper Left Studio, located at 81 North Forks Ave., is free to the public. It's open from 8:30 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. during exhibits, and by appointment between exhibits.