After two years, the University of Michigan’s Prison Creative Arts Project returned in-person at the Duderstadt Center Gallery. The exhibition displayed art created by men and women who are incarcerated at each of the 27 prisons in Michigan. This year, 392 artists had their work displayed, which included 714 paintings, 3D works, and drawings. It was free and open to the public. This exhibition was the largest of its kind in the world.
“PCAP is dedicated to bringing the artworks of incarcerated artists into the public realm to humanize people in prison, break stereotypes, and create dialogue about mass incarceration,” according to Sarah Unrath via email. The artists, through the artwork they create, provide both a needed creative outlet while incarcerated, and a unique perspective to those who are not. The artwork reveals an intimate glimpse into human vulnerability, challenging ingrained presumptions and prejudices the patrons may possess, consciously or not, about those who are incarcerated.
The majority of the artwork, whose subjects range from self-portraits, landscapes, fantasy, wildlife, visions of life while incarcerated, and more, was for sale, with proceeds going directly to the artist. In 2021, nearly half of the works exhibited were sold, resulting in sales of over $28,000. In addition to the exhibit, and the ability to purchase these original works, PCAP scheduled several keynote speakers for the patrons.
The exhibition was on display at the Duderstadt Gallery, 2281 Bonisteel Blvd., on U of M’s North Campus. It is supported by the Michigan Arts and Culture Council, U of M Residential College, U of M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, and Om of Medicine-Ann Arbor.