Norman Art Walk to showcase artwork from Oklahoma inmates

NORMAN, OKLA. — The halls of Union City Community Corrections Center are an art gallery of inmates past and present. Their work is rarely seen by the outside world.

“There was some chaos around me when I started drawing that,” inmate Jason Sparkman said. “The clock represents the chaos and all the stuff that creeps up on you and bites you before you realize what happened.”

Not only does art help incarcerated men and women pass the time, it can be a catalyst for piecing their lives back together.

“I’ve got a lot of mixed emotions,” Sparkman said. “I’m just trying to let them out.”

The truth is, there is a lot of talent behind the wire. And now, artists like Jason have an opportunity to expose their work to Oklahoma’s art community.

“ODOC and Norman Art Walk partnered together to create an opportunity for inmates to showcase their remarkable talent,” Chief of Offender Advocacy Nicole Flemming said.

Oklahoma Department of Corrections staff collected breathtaking artwork from facilities around the state.

Their art will be shared at the Norman Art Walk on Friday, Sept. 8. It can be found inside Studio Ink Gallery located at 220 E. Main St. in Norman.

“For the whole world to see that they are not just sitting here, they are working on something,” Mabel Basset Correctional Center Deputy Warden Adedapo Adeosun said. “They can share their message through their hard work.”

Dozens of paintings, sculptures and jewelry will be showcased alongside work from some of the state’s most skilled artists.

Although the inmates don’t have all the professional tools and supplies, they do have a remarkable ability to improvise.

“I like flowers. I think they are so beautiful,” inmate Rachel White said. “This one was made with prison-issued toothpaste and colored pencil. You break it down and it makes watercolors. That’s what I have to work with.”

This partnership with Norman Art Walk allows the incarcerated to express themselves on a major platform, earn money and show the world beauty can be found anywhere.

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