Tiny artworks promote creativity and keep incarcerated artists in action

The new virtual exhibition will be live May 20th
by Fernanda Pires

ANN ARBOR—It is the first miniature exhibition by Michigan incarcerated artists ever. The new Prison Creative Arts Project digital show, Miniatures 2021: Resisting the Confines of Quarantine, will feature 141 artworks that have one common factor: they can easily be held in your hand. 

The pieces of art were created by 93 artists, from different ages and backgrounds. All of them were sent by mail to the PCAP office from 23 correctional facilities throughout the state.

Despite their small-scale sizes, the miniature show features a diversity of both artists and artistic choices, including sculptures, portraits, tattoo imagery, drawing, painting and collage, among others. All the 2D artworks measure 4 in. x 6 in. and the 3D, no more than 4 in. x 6 in. x 4 in. 

"Our Miniatures exhibit was intended to maintain connection and continuity with visual artists during a time when we could not visit in person to engage in our traditional manner," PCAP's Arts Programming Coordinator Graham Hamilton said.

“In my mind and heart, caring, intelligent and creative response during extremely difficult times is a true sign of greatness. I am grateful to these artists for showing me how to live." 

The idea for the show is due to the constraints of the pandemic and an opportunity to explore different kinds of art, according to the curators. The team created an exhibit that could operate remotely but also wanted to make sure there was some level playing field. All the artists were able to get into the show with just one stamp.  

PCAP Director Nora Krinitsky explained it was very important to the curators and her to find a way to support artists during this year when PCAP could not visit prison for art selection. 

"The Miniatures show allowed us to reach into prison and provide an outlet for artists during this unusual year. The artwork in the show is just as wide-ranging, innovative, provocative, and emotional as any other Annual Exhibition," she said.

PCAP curator Charlie Michaels said it was interesting to see how artists approached translating their work into miniature forms.

"Sometimes the work looks and feels like miniature versions of the artist's larger work and sometimes the size restrictions allow the artist to try new materials or subjects or forms they would not have otherwise," he said. "It was so fun to watch the Miniatures work come in through the mail, envelope-sized versions of work from many artists who we have gotten to know well through the Annual Exhibition."

For artist J. Trice, the unique circumstances COVID has created tested the world and the way PCAP operates. He also decided to challenge himself as an artist and created Dell's Paradise, a nature scene, a subject matter he has never used before. 

"This medium [colored pencil] is also a first for me in a PCAP show. And thank you for the restriction of size because it made me move beyond my usual boundaries," Trice said.

With scissors, nail clippers, push pins and glue, artist S. Campbell created Drift Trikes, a motorcycle sculpture  made from cardboard off the back of writing tablets. 

"I enjoyed greatly every minute I spent creating my pieces. I can only hope someone else finds a bit of a mischievous smile when looking at it and realizes how much fun it could be," he said.

"This miniature exhibition is a testament to the resilience of our artists and the power of art in the face of the most impossible circumstances," Krinitsky said.

The Opening Reception for the digital exhibit is scheduled for May, 19 and there is a public tour set for May, 20. Artwork sales appointments are available May 20–27.

More information, visit: https://lsa.umich.edu/pcap/exhibits/upcoming-exhibits.html.

Release Date: 05/12/2021
Tags: Prison Creative Arts Project