Gallery Talk to show art originating from within prison walls

The Huntsville community will have a chance to see a different side of the prison system through unique art pieces today as the Wynne Home Arts Center hosts a Gallery Talk of its current exhibit, Retrospective of Prison Art.

Texas collectors Stephanie Smither from Houston and Murray Smither of Fort Worth, who provided some of the pieces in the exhibit, will be at the Wynne Home to share their experiences collecting the art and stories from the artists.

The exhibit features a wide variety of art pieces by prison artists from the Texas Prison Museum and collectors. The art includes pieces made from traditional media such as intricate drawings and paintings to more unique pieces such as a handmade, functional clock, a chess set made from soap and several pieces made from match sticks.

The exhibit and talk present a unique opportunity for the community to see creative work from behind the walls of the prison system, according to Linda Pease, Cultural Services Coordinator for Huntsville.

Its a unique opportunity to see the best work that is done in the prison, Pease said. I think a lot of people have negative thoughts of the prison. [The exhibit] shows a creative side to some of the men in the prison. Everyone has a story and this is just how they tell theirs.

According to Pease, the exhibit also includes work from well-known artists Henry Clark, who does detailed ink drawings on envelopes; and Texas artist Frank Jones, who uses red and blue pencils to create abstract drawings that represent prison structures.

The art pieces tell stories about life behind bars that have unique connections to Huntsville, a community that has been home to several prisons for many years.

Its not just about the artists, its about the history, Paula Turner, assistant at the Wynne Home, said. There are fantastic prison artists and a lot of people dont realize it. There is one artist featured who lived through a prison breakout at the Walls Unit in the 70s. The art is like snapshots of history; theyre definitely part of our community.

The Wynne Home is part of the Huntsville cultural district and focuses on exposing the community to self-taught art in its exhibits and hosts about four exhibits every year. The organization also offers art classes throughout the year for anyone who wants to take them.

Retrospective of Prison Art will be up through February. The Gallery Talk will be held from 5:30 to 7 p.m. today, followed by a small reception with refreshments.

The event is free for anyone to attend. For more information call 936-291-5424.

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