Prison Artists Envision Their First Taste of Freedom

by | Jul 17, 2023

July 13, 2023 — Community Partners in Action’s annual Celebrate! CPA Prison Arts at Theaterworks Hartford, Executive Director Beth Hines, donors, board members and Honorary Chair Hartford City Mayor Luke Bronin shared a mutual commitment to justice-involved individuals at an event dedicated to the unique creative endeavors of artists currently and formerly incarcerated in Connecticut.

Guests enjoyed a recently installed exhibition called “Chow.” Prison Food Fantasies (& Realities), which captures memories of the last meal before incarceration and dreams of the first meal upon release. More than thirty CPA Prison Arts workshop participants at Brooklyn, Osborn and York Correctional Institutions have works on display. 

Michael Gambino, retired Wiremold CEO and Community Partners in Action board member spoke of his years of experience volunteering at Osborne Correctional and the tough life circumstances that often prevail when individuals commit a serious crime.

“I believe in redemption, in assisting the incarcerated as we do the Prison Arts program, where self-respect can be gained which is so important to these individuals who have not had self-respect in many cases, their entire lives,” said Gambino.

CPA’s Executive Director Beth Hines thanked Hartford City Mayor Luke Bronin and Thea Montanez, Hartford’s chief operating officer for their ongoing commitment to justice-involved individuals and the Reentry Population.

“If we are serious about being a Second Chance Society, then people who have made mistakes are individuals who are just as much a part of our community as anyone else, capable of contributing and creating beauty, and inspiring us,” said Mayor Bronin.

Jeff Greene, Prison Arts Program Manager spoke of his career working inside prisons across Connecticut, teaching art and ensuring that those incarcerated have the materials needed to create.

“The Prison Arts program is this thing that we are doing, while we are figuring out who we are, the direction in life, where we are going and what we are going to do, what we have done, and what we can do better. How to transcend this life of cinder blocks – we are figuring all of that out while we are making art.”

Community Partners in Action’s guests also enjoyed the TheaterWorks Hartford production of the Broadway hit, Clydes, a comedy about a truck stop sandwich shop where the kitchen staff, all of whom have done time, get a chance to reclaim their lives.

#PrisonArts #Reentry #Connecticut