Inmates Create Art at Local Jail - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Inmates Create Art at Local Jail

Posted: Updated: Jan 4, 2008 10:21 PM EST

Iron bars and concrete walls don't usually inspire a lot of creativity. But at one Central Virginia jail the inmates are becoming artists.

Inmates at the Albemarle Charlottesville Regional Jail don't have much beauty in their lives. But now their jail has become a source of colorful works of art.

"It's like another whole culture...another world in the jail," said Kris Bowmaster, who teaches an art class at the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail.

"Monday nights I go in and I hang out with the guys. We paint and we laugh and we listen to music the whole time, and we work hard," said Bowmaster.

Bowmaster's class is one of four offered to the inmates. Their work is now on display at Charlottesville's BozArt Gallery. It's art that allows the men to explore a whole new world--from behind bars.

"Mainly, it gives them a chance to learn a new talent or enhance a skill they already have and it gives them a means of expression," said Phyllis Back, Director of Programs for the Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail. 

"They were apprehensive at first because some of them had never painted before. But once they got into it, they really got into it. Critiquing each other's work put their bad days into the painting," said Bowmaster.

And the inmates aren't the only ones benefiting from the classes.

"It's fun and I appreciate working with the men in there. Just a lot of brotherhood in there," said Bowmaster.

The inmate's art, a display called Variations in Doing Time, will be up at the BozArt Gallery until January 27. Half the proceeds from the show will be donated to the Literacy Volunteers of Charlottesville-Albemarle.

Reported by Claire O'Brien
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