Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Creativity In Prison

Having been to one maximum security jail
and five different prisons in Oregon
I would have to say that Creativity
is alive and well in each location.
It is expressed in many varied ways,
from the artwork of tattoos,
to baking and cooking,
sometimes through music,
or even the writing of newsletters.
I recently read a quote that,
“Creativity, when not used,
turns to depression.” -Henri Reiman
There is plenty depression in prison.
 So what if the repression of creativity
turns into more crime?
Jobs are scarce enough, both “Inside & Out”.
So an increase in criminal activity
is almost expected by some in society.
If we could encourage more creativity,
could we see more peace around us?
If the same minds that are used
to think up & act out crimes
could be taught and guided
to express their feelings through art
what could the results possibly be?
In the movie “Freedom Writers”,
is the true-life story of Erin Gruwell,
who teaches inner-city, at-risk teens
to write about their anguish,
allowing them to grow beyond their pain.
Here, 150 minds are given space
to create what previously had been
un-thinkable, un-tried, & un-spoken.
Their words and stories provided,
a way to believe in something more,
to create and find value in one’s own voice.

At the Oregon State Penitentiary
two inmates working in the metal shop
were given permission to work on a project
but only when normal duties were complete
and using scraps for materials.
Here is what they put together...
What does this look like to you?
(photo made public-online through the ‘Oregonian’ newspaper)

Is it art? Is it rehabilitation?
Is it a way to focus the creative energies within?
Perhaps we need more ‘arts & music’ classes in schools
to keep kids interested in learning.

Think about music...
Does it connect more people
 throughout the periods of history?
Or art...
through the barriers of race, gender, status & wealth?
Or words...
can they convey eternal meaning?
Or our economy, is it based more on production
or the valuable innovative ideas that catch on?

What is one thing that all convicts
seem to have plenty of?
Imaginative ideas!
Find the right one
tell him he "cant do it"
and he will find a way.
Can we put that power to work
in our American companies?

I don’t believe that “Art can save us.”(-unknown)
But I do believe it has power
to set us free from our previous constraints.

"Live out of your imagination, not your history." –Stephen Covey


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