university of michigan prison art show

I snapped this photo a few days ago, while judging this year’s University of Michigan Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners. This note was attached to the back of one of the paintings. This was the only piece where I knew what the crime of the artist had been. Hopefully you can read it.

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  1. egpenet
    Posted March 27, 2008 at 11:42 pm | Permalink


  2. egpenet
    Posted March 27, 2008 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

    Carravagio would laugh.

  3. ChelseaL
    Posted March 28, 2008 at 6:20 am | Permalink


    I know comments about the exhibit have been mixed. I’ve always felt sympathy for prisoners, though I’m not sure why. In any case, just a quick note of support for the show and MM,


  4. Crain
    Posted March 28, 2008 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    It would be interesting to see the whole show organized by the crime of the artist, or length of sentence. I think there would likely be commonalities.

  5. Mr. French
    Posted March 28, 2008 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    Those interested in the intersection of crime and art may also be interested to know that Salvador Dali is suspected by some to be the killer of the Black Dahlia.

  6. egpenet
    Posted March 28, 2008 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    We’re all bozos on this bus … but it ain’t Art.

  7. stella
    Posted March 28, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    I really hope you somehow voted for/recognized Frankie Davis in whatever your capacity was there. That shit was outstanding. And waaayyy out of my price range.

  8. Posted March 29, 2008 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    I guess I had some illusions about the readership of this blog. I went to the exhibit and actually looked at the art work. It was such a deep experience my friend had to tear me away (she was sick and wanted to leave).

    I think of art as an expression of the person that needs to take place and if it doesn’t, that person is diminished and not as healthy. (I include breathing, eating, conversation, sex, music & song, and justice in the same category.) I don’t see it as a special skill or talent that only a few possess–I think we all have it and we’re better people when we share it with others. I saw art from all places along that spectrum there — from the most beautiful, to the deeply communicative, to the most rudimentary, to the most psychotic. But all of it was an attempt to share something about that we have incarcerated.

    Frankie Davis’ art was incredible.

  9. mark
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    Ouch… “illusions about the readership of this blog.”

    I think you might be giving too much weight to the comments of thee five people, Lisele. According to the webstats, this site gets about 700 unique reader a day on average. The comments of 5 don’t even account for 1%. And, at least one of those five was unambiguously enthusiastic about the program.

    With all of that said, I should have posted something better about the show. As a general rule of thumb, the better the post, the better the comments. I wanted to write something more meaningful, but I just couldn’t find the words. I’d spent over 2 hours there, studying the paintings. I took the judging responsibility really seriously. There’s lots I could have said in a post, had I been able to order and articulate my thoughts. They were overwhelming, though. So, I take responsibility for the post. And I liked this image. While the art does speak for itself, I appreciate context. There were some in the audience suggesting that murderers, for instance, not be given the opportunity to participate. I thought this was a good, simple response to that.

  10. egpenet
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    Why can’t I post here?

  11. egpenet
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    And they are selling it? Sheesh!

  12. Posted March 30, 2008 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Although I can read most of the image, mark, there is a word or two that I can’t make out.

    Were you also too tired to take a better photo, or more likely, do a better job with photoshop before you posted it???


    [All said in the spirit of poking good fun.]

  13. maryd
    Posted April 2, 2008 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    some of the most interesting prison data can be found here:

  14. oteam carl philips
    Posted October 29, 2008 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    now iknow piccasso wouldnt approove of his behaviour then but ,damn the man changaed and he now can see the light of the canvas

  15. Posted April 30, 2013 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I just happened on this blog and want to say I’m glad all artist were included. The art of prisoners is absolutely fascinating to me. I’ve never had the opportunity to go to a show but own many great pieces from prisoners that are my penpals I too “feel sorry”, everyone has a sad story and when writing to them I say this and what someone does in their youth most of us can hide it we are not given a life sentence for a youthful mistake and none of us are the same as we were when we were in our teens and 20s. Our country mass incarcerates its a business bigger that GM/For/Walmart put together. ok I’m long winded and I couldnt make out much of the above image, I’m sure its similar to stories I have heard. From old and young.

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