How the caged person speaks


The participants art mobiles hanging from the ceiling of words that of their feelings before and after rehabilitation

Photo Courtesy of Virginia Santillanes

By Virginia Santillanes


The Marks Art Center has a current exhibition Beyond the Blue showing from now through Oct. 26, 2017. Organized by California State University, San Bernardino (CSUSB) Community-based Art (CBA) Prison Arts Collective project is a part of rehabilitation program showcasing various themes of artwork by prisoners using art as their voice.

Each room in the gallery has different themes and uses various mediums. Unlike most art exhibits there are no labels identifying the artist nor their work.  Gallery assistant Andrea Calderon said, “labels were left out to protect the participants.”

One of the art themes named Alternative Materiality are multi-medium artworks.  Andrea explained, “they have limited access to materials, what they can use, and allowed to use” and  “for example on 3 small paintings the participant used coffee to paint.” Then going into another room is the artworks a collaborative theme which has a couple of white boxed monitors playing videos of inmates residing poetry, acting, and participants playing the guitar.  Above the ceiling are art mobiles hanging of words painted and decorated.  Each word is of how the incarcerated felt coming into prison and other words are positive words to show a reflection of the transformation to a more positive prospective showing the results of the rehabilitation program.  The space is visual and auditorial which heightens your experience and can be interpreted very different by each visitor.

Is there a taboo and what is the purpose of this art show?  Andrea said, “it is about restoration of justice and social justice being used through artist” and “it can transform what you may think of a prisoner.”  This type of exhibit can shift the notion of prisoners as not seen valuable.”  This type of show can open a new perspective to students and guest.

The anonymous artist works are for sale and the funds go directly back to support Community based programs.  The closing reception will be held on Oct. 26, 2017, from 3 p.m. – 7 p.m. and there will be a panel discussion, entertainment and refreshments.



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