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‘Beautiful in Its Sincerity, Even Where the Truth is Painful to See’

By Maureen Schlangen

A traveling exhibit of art by incarcerated persons features works ranging from sculptures made from soap, toilet paper, toothpaste and cigarette packaging to paintings and drawings exploring themes of captivity, addiction, spirituality, self-respect, respect for others and a path to peace.

Cellblock Visions: Set Free in the Penitentiary is open during library hours through March 8 in the Roesch Library first-floor gallery.

public Lecture Feb. 18

The exhibit’s curator, Phyllis Kornfeld, who has taught art in prisons and jails across the United States for 36 years, will be on campus for a free public lecture at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 18, in the Gathering Place on the second floor.

“I am not so much a teacher as an excavator, digging for gold,” Kornfeld says. “One after the other, the artists tapped into a part of themselves that hadn’t had much opportunity up until then to express its goodness. This art proves that the unlimited very human capacity to create beauty and goodness exists in all of us, no less in an incarcerated person, and can be elicited just as violence can.”

Gallery walk-through WITH CURATOR FEB. 19,

Kornfeld will do a gallery walk-through with visitors from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 19. It's free and open to the public.

Students can earn housing points by exploring the exhibit and sharing their reflections anytime between 12:30 and 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 13, or Monday, Feb. 17. Students should bring a smartphone or other mobile device and earphones in order to watch a short video about the exhibit.

'It's never too late'

“These artists did their work with care and passion,” Kornfeld says. “Though inexperienced, they seemed to know what to do and how to do it without instruction. They trusted something, an unseen guide. Their artwork is beautiful in its sincerity, even where the truth is painful to see. Art has always had the power to transform lives. It’s never too late.”

For more information, see the exhibit’s website.

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