This is the fourth in a series of Art In Your Inbox editions developed in collaboration with the Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP).
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The Buck Never Stops
Artwork Title: Redeemed
Artist: Susan Brown
2020, beadwork, dimensions: 21in x 26in x 12in
Artist statement
Susan Brown’s statement is written in response to her selection as part of the Prison Creative Art Project’s 25th Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners (postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic). 

“This is my 17th year incarcerated. Until I can physically be free I am ever so grateful for the opportunity to express my personal freedom of art with all of you. Each piece that gets selected for the U of M art show gives me hope that someone will be touched by my creations. This is the 25th exhibit for PCAP, and I hope my work represents just how honored I am to be a participant. To my beautiful children; it is an honor to be a part of your lives. I love you so very much!”
– Susan Brown
Over the course of six months’ time, some of which she spent in segregation, Susan Brown created Redeemed. The armature and structure are constructed out of toilet paper and glue, common materials for incarcerated artists to work with. Brown placed each of the work’s 347,929 beads individually. She originally began honing her craft with two-dimensional, small-scale, intricate beadwork, and then began creating more structural pieces like this one. Of its significance, Brown says, “This piece started out as a symbolic reference to how often society discards things by removing life, as it does with deer that are taken and hunted for sport or pleasure, and how often individuals are taken or removed, whether by their own actions or others’, from society by harsh sentencing. Both are discarded, and the numbers of each, each year, are greatly increasing with little or no positive change. I have been blessed to create this piece. It was above and beyond my wildest dreams.” 

Reflection Prompts:
  • How might we view each bead as a comment on the importance of acting and creating with intention? 
  • Have you ever thought about things or people who are unnecessarily discarded? How might you bring attention to them, as Brown did?
  • Notice how Brown brought out the symmetry of the Buck with her colorful designs. What else if nature and in our built environment is symmetrical. How could you enhance its beauty with your own design?
"For incarcerated mothers, parenting is a day-to-day struggle"

The number of incarcerated women has increased sharply over the past four decades, rising by 700% since 1980, and a majority of incarcerated women are mothers. Read about the particular challenges incarcerated mothers face, such as finding alternate childcare, structural challenges working to prevent them from bonding with their children, barriers to important physical contact, and the incredible ways women work to be as involved in their children’s lives as possible, despite the separation.

Photo by Pablo Varela on Unsplash
Unlock the Box

Find out more about the national Unlock the Box campaign, a coalition of national and local advocacy groups working to end solitary confinement for all people. Currently, the United States is in violation of the United Nation’s Mandela Rules, which prohibit long-term solitary confinement because of its cruelty and inhumanity. Unlock the Box has a long-term strategy to substantively change conditions of confinement over the next ten years.
About PCAP
The Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) brings those impacted by the justice system and the University of Michigan community into artistic collaboration for mutual learning and growth. Founded in 1990 with a single theatre workshop, PCAP has grown to include undergraduate courses, weekly creative arts workshops, exhibitions, publications, and events that reach thousands of individuals each year. PCAP's most visible program, the Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners, is the largest curated exhibition of incarcerated artists in the world and features pieces created by artists in every correctional facility in the state. The Annual Exhibition is generously sponsored by the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs and Om of Medicine.
Art In Your Inbox Contributors:
  • Olivia Ordonez, PhD Candidate in English Language and Literature and Rackham Public Engagement Fellow at UMMA;
  • Nora Krinitsky, Lecturer in the Residential College and Interim Director of the Prison Creative Arts Project; and
  • Janie Paul, painter and community-based artist, Professor Emerita, Stamps School of Art and Design and School of Social Work, and Senior Curator, Prison Creative Arts Project.
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