Original art pieces from LGBTQ+ inmates showcased in stunning virtual exhibition

Incarcerated LGBTQ+ artists used limited available materials to produce truly incredible artworks depicting life in prison.

Three drawings from collection created to share stories about LGBTQ+ life in prison.

It all started with a small art ad in a Black & Pink newsletter – a publication created to share stories about LGBTQ+ life in prison. The ad invited incarcerated queer artists to submit their original art, and the response rate was incredible.

More than 4,000 art pieces were submitted, each made with whatever basic materials the artists had access to in prison including dull pencils and thin ball-point ink pen tubes, since the plastic shells are rarely permitted.

Some creatives even invented their own art tools, with one artist putting Kool-aid into an asthma inhaler to create an air-brushed effect.

The complete exhibition is called On the Inside: A Group Show of LGBTQ Artists Who Are Currently Incarcerated and it was created to support thousands of incarcerated queer people across the US by showcasing their voices through their original artwork.

Reviewers identified shared struggles of desire, alienation, and longing as themes across all of the submitted work, and the talent showcased in the final collection is absolutely stunning.

‘Acceptance’ by Stevie S
Drawings from collection created to share stories about LGBTQ+ life in prison.

‘always without a net’ by Larry S

‘Rihanna’ by Gabriel S

‘Forgive My Sins’ by Chino
Drawing from collection created to share stories about LGBTQ+ life in prison.

‘Strength’ by Kasper

‘Lady War’ by Almalik

‘Prison Is Worse For Some’ by Tony B
Drawings from collection created to share stories about LGBTQ+ life in prison.

‘The Beauty Within Us’ by Lamont

‘Untitled’ by Betty F

People living in prison are often isolated from society, and their experiences are rarely depicted in such personal and moving ways. Art is a powerful pathway offering connection, and Black & Pink’s Founder, Jason Lydon, says, “This art is about showing who people in prison are.”

On the Inside was largely created to encourage viewers to take action for prisoner justice. This is especially important considering that LGBTQ+ people are two to three times more likely to be imprisoned compared to cisgender heterosexual people, and queer prisoners experience the highest rate of violence in US jails.

To see the full collection of prison art created by LGBTQ+ artists, be sure to visit the virtual gallery.

The project was directed by Tatiana Von Furstenberg and managed by Natalia Provatas, with graphic design from Eline Mul.

© 2023 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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