In 2014, the Sheriff’s department approached the Indianapolis Art Center with a compelling reality: teens in the general population of the Marion County Jail were repeatedly being caught with a specific kind of contraband – artwork and art supplies. From a portrait created with Kool-Aide to pillowcases transformed into canvas, these juveniles were trying to find a positive outlet in a very hard situation.
Together, we created Insider Art, because we know that art can be a peaceful outlet for self-expression, a tool to channel frustrations, and an opportunity to reflect on new pathways. Through weekly studio art classes, juveniles in the general population of the Marion County Jail will have the chance to think about themselves through three new concepts: I Am, I Create, and We Connect. Insider Art is designed to help these young people build confidence and skills to navigate a difficult situation and make positive choices for their futures.
Insider Art will iInspire students to use their innate creativity in positive ways, foster empathy and cooperation through the creative process, build art skills, knowledge and visual literacy, provide a safe, positive opportunity for self-expression and formation of identity, and encourage positive community impact and opportunities to give back through art.
Why Sheriff John Layton supports Insider Art: “Through the power of art and self-expression, we are able to give these young inmates a new way to look at the world. Through art, they can see beauty and feel freedom. It is our great hope that they will be able to take the lessons they learn in these art classes and choose to leave their own positive impression on the world around them.”
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.