Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA) uses the creative arts, including theater, writing and visual arts, in order to develop and expand critical life skills of the incarcerated men and women it serves. As a result, more than 60 works by RTA prisoner members from five maximum and medium security prisons will be on display at Ossining Public Library Art Gallery through July 31. The works in Images from Behind Prison Walls range from painting and charcoal to pen and makeup, and tackle topics such as prison life, freedom and mental well-being. Artist Ivie DeMolina painted a pair of red stilettos because, in her words: “it’s the closest [she gets] to wearing them,” while Hector Rodriguez’s painting is inspired by nature since, as he explains, “nature’s magic reminds [him] of [his] mother.” A public reception on July 14 will present an opportunity for guests to meet two formerly incarcerated prisoners who have work in the show, Jeffrey Clemente and Amaury Bonilla. Bonilla, who served ten years in Sing Sing Prison, explained: “Through this exhibit, viewers will gain awareness that [prisoners are] not just a number. We’re human beings able to express ourselves in numerous ways.” RTA, which partnered with Ossining Public Library, Ossining Arts Council and Sing Sing Prison Museum for this exhibition, has been effective in decreasing its members’ “return to prison rate.” While the national return rate is more than 50%, the rate of members who have participated in RTA’s program is less than 7%. For more info, visit rta-arts.org.
A version of this article first appeared in the July-August issue of ArtsNews, ArtsWestchester’s monthly publication. ArtsNews is distributed throughout Westchester County. A digital copy is also available at artsw.org/artsnews.