Art Against the Odds: Wisconsin Prison Art w/ Portrait Society Gallery
This week on the pod, Elisabeth speaks with Debra Brehmer and Paul Salsieder from Portrait Society Gallery of Contemporary Art, who joined to speak about the forthcoming exhibition Art Against the Odds: Wisconsin Prison Art. The exhibition features works of art by over 60 incarcerated or formerly incarcerated individuals from Wisconsin.
Throughout the conversation, Deb and Paul reflect on how these artists are making work “to survive,” and are doing so by drawing on inventiveness, without spaces that are in their control, reliable access to materials, and a myriad of other restrictions. And yet, the artists create work that are sometimes "joyous outpourings”. As Paul remarks, as in wider society, each artist in the exhibition comes to his practice with his own unique, skills, experience and motivations for creating.
Ultimately, they hope that the show can be source of sparking dialogue about the issues with Wisconsin’s carceral system, mass incarceration and its after effects that often includes recidivism. They hope these conversations can translate into awareness and reform, and that the effect of seeing the show will be to humanize an otherwise invisible population, and give voice to the voiceless, and allow the artists to engage with the outside world in a positive way.
Art Against the Odds opens at MIAD on January 16, with an opening celebration on January 19. There will be panel discussions held throughout the run of the show. Learn more at Artagainstheodds.org.
Portrait Society Gallery, or follow PSG on Instagram.
From artist Mario Rickett’s letter in the intro:
“Life is like a pencil. Sometimes we want to erase our mistakes and draw things over again in our lives. But with that pencil... we can do and make beautiful and extraordinary things. And when we erase, we are learning—it's just up to us to keep going.”