From handcrafted painting frames to a rusty and decrepit metal door in front of the entrance, “The Cell and the Sanctuary: Art and Incarceration” features art made by various individuals incarcerated in California’s prison system.
The exhibit at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH) is a collaboration between Barrios Unidos, a youth violence prevention organization, and the William James Association, which focuses on transformative arts experiences in nontraditional settings, that push for the implementation of art programs in prisons.
Pieces on display include silkscreen paintings laden with political commentary, self-portraits set in the artist’s cell and a collection of drawings done in colored pencil and ballpoint pen on envelopes.
MAH Curator of Exhibitions Justin Hoover emphasized the uniqueness of the messages displayed in the art.
“They’re special because they’re willing to engage in deep conversations of the self and of repentance, remorse and forgiveness,” Hoover said. “[The exhibit] also asks questions — ‘Is this the best way for justice? Is a prison system the correct way to rehabilitate people?’”
“The Cell and the Sanctuary” will run until Feb. 22. Gallery hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. On Fridays, the gallery is open late until 9 p.m. Adult entry is $5 and $3 for students and seniors. For more information visit santacruzmah.org.