Inmate art show at Homeboy

“Why do we have the inmate art show?” Sister Mary Sean Hodges asks before answering her own query.

“We do it to educate the public,” explains the Dominican Sister of Mission San Jose, who directs PREP (Partnership for Re-entry Program). “The popular image of inmates in prison as media portrays them is evil persons who just do crimes and never should be welcomed back again into society. Well, all of us mess up, and all of us are redeemable and healing.

“And we do it to just to give greater self-esteem to the inmates through displaying their art. Art work in prison is very healing, because inmates can express the pain that’s inside them. And being able to express that pain, they really can heal. They can express a lot of the emotions that they’re dealing with in prison or after they just get out: the anger, the hurt they’ve caused, the hurt that they’re received — the expression of sorry and forgiveness for what they’ve done.”

The Office of Restorative Justice program helps male and female prison inmates re-integrate into society before and after release. PREP operates a number of half-way-like houses in Los Angeles mainly for released “lifers,” under the name Francisco Home and direction of Sister Hodges.

This year’s art fair and exhibit — “The Art of the Incarcerated: Faith and Hope Beyond Prison Walls” — will take place on Oct. 12, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. at Homeboy Industries (130 W. Bruno St., Los Angeles) near Chinatown. It will feature black-and-white pencil drawings, paintings and sculptures. Two of the innovative works in this seventh-annual event are a motorcycle made out of potato chip bags and the wood carving of a buffalo.

The “Art of the Incarcerated” is a major fundraiser for both PREP and Families of the Incarcerated, another program of the Office of Restorative Justice. The latter ministry assists families of the incarcerated through support groups, parenting classes and educational workshops, along with providing support for family visits to prisons all under the direction of Amalia Molina.

Last year the art fair and exhibit raised $9,600, with this year’s goal being $10,000-plus for direct services in these two programs.

“We really have a lot of very talented artists in our prisons,” says Sister Hodges. “And this event really helps current and former prisoners a lot. Art is a strong way of healing and being able to express yourself. Plus, it really helps to educate people on the outside about the humanity of these men and women. We’re all children of God.”

For more information about “The Art of the Incarcerated,” contact Sister Mary Sean Hodges (213-438-4820, ext. 23 or SrMSHodges@la-archdiocese.org) or Amalia Molina (213-438-4820, ext. 24 or AAMolina@la-archdiocse.org).



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All of us struggle, and we struggle in three ways. First, sometimes we struggle simply to maintain ourselves, to stay healthy and stable, to stay normal, to not fall apart, to not have our lives unravel into chaos and depression.

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