“Envision a Transformation”

I recently read the book, “Are Prisons Obsolete,” by Angela Davis and responded to a call to action to  create Art after I finished reading. To me, prisons are one of the cruelest social experiments, which  causes isolation and detachment from society which is dehumanizing. The environment in prison is  absent of color, typically gray or very sterile, with no way to nurture the human spirit, and over time, the  challenges one faces by years of being exposed to this environment breaks the person down. There has  to be a better way to hold people accountable for their actions and give them the resources to overcome challenges to be a part of our community.  

Let me walk you through the symbolism of my painting. Starting in the left-hand corner, the 3D glasses  are floating at the top, like “YOU” are a time traveler who is observing the exact moment that prisons  are closing and people are being freed.  

The bottom center is soil, with a heart shaped seed at the base of the sunflower and there are other  seeds as well. This symbolizes that anything rooted in love will grow can bring about positive change.  It also symbolizes the saying that “They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.  

The sunflower is drawn to light, which symbolizes hope, and even in the darkest moments, a person can  overcome any challenges they may face.  

Because of the hopeless feeling that someone might feel as a prisoner, the colors I chose are the  opposite of those feelings and is full of vibrant color. The blue sky represents fresh air and freedom.  The colors represent the overwhelming force of love to help those in hard times overcome and feel  reunited and connected with their loved ones. It represents self-love and forgiveness too.  

The hands don’t have a gender, and that is intentional to be gender neutral, and also for everyone to be  able to identify or relate. The stripes of color represent the BIPOC communities who are most  vulnerable. The width is greater for the Black, Brown and (Red) Indigenous who represent the largest  percentage of incarcerated people. There are some incarcerated Asian and White people as well, but I  made the width of these colors more narrow to reflect that they represent a smaller percentage of  those who are incarcerated. I was purposeful about having the first color as black, followed by brown  and red to represent that they have the greatest need for prevention, intervention, and rehabilitation.  

The pieces of the handcuffs are being shattered and are flying in the air. The colors of the birds are  purposefully the same color as the handcuffs to suggest that they become the birds flying freely above  and are no longer caged, as a tribute to Maya Angelou. The birds symbolize messengers flying close to  Heaven and our connection to our Creator.