FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:March 2, 2022
CONTACT: Press Office
New York, NY—The NYC Department of Correction (DOC) and Materials for the Arts (MFTA) are proud to present “Gateways to Galleries,” an exhibition of artwork created by people in DOC custody on view in the MFTA Gallery through March 14.
As part of broader efforts to reinstate consistent programming, DOC has partnered with Materials for the Arts to bring “Gateways to Galleries” to Rikers Island. This program allows individuals in DOC care to participate in an advanced drawing course with wraparound support on how to prepare an artist statement, present a cohesive portfolio of artwork, and market oneself as an artist. This program was funded in part by the National Endowment for the Arts through the Art Works grant program.
“I am extremely proud of the DOC staff for continuously making efforts to provide people in our care with resources, programs and activities,” said Commissioner Louis Molina. “Consistent programming is a key component to keeping our jails safe and providing people in custody with meaningful skills they can use upon returning to their communities.”
During the pandemic, DOC pivoted many of its programs to remote learning and engagement, and has been extremely successful in getting tutorials, information, and support to several artists in DOC custody. Artists are encouraged to create artwork through the help of online art instructions with teaching staff from the MFTA Education Center.
“The experiences of the people who participated in this program shows how art-making can break down barriers and provide new pathways for self expression and self confidence for individuals in DOC custody," said John Cloud Kaiser, MFTA Director of Education. “Materials for the Arts is proud to partner on this momentous program that showcases the power of the arts to inspire, uplift, and transform."
Art changes and reforms lives. The expressive and creative artworks in this show, mainly drawings, paintings, and sculptures, show how much can be created with passion and the imagination. Many of the artworks reference tattoo imagery, experiences of trauma, abstract expressionism, and hopes for the future. These artworks are full of emotion and talent that often goes unseen to outside eyes.
“I designed this program in an effort to showcase the incredible talent I’ve found working in the facilities at DOC over the past ten years. Having the ability to pinpoint known artists, offer them accelerated support and then highlight their talents/achievements in a public arena has been monumental, said Director of Fine Art Programming Lindsay Lybrand. “The pride and joy displayed by the participating artists while preparing their work is a career highlight! This showcase wholly aligns with the idea of supporting individuals while they deal with extreme hardships and provides space to feel good about something they have worked so hard to create. The holistic approach to healing people is not just about providing boundaries and restrictions, but also about providing opportunities to explore and develop a sense of self that works to benefit all.”
The exhibit will be held in the MFTA Gallery from February 28 to March 14 with a public opening event on Thursday, March 3 from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Photos of the artwork are available here.
About the Department of Correction
The New York City Department of Correction (DOC) is dedicated to creating a safe and supportive environment while providing individuals in our care with a path to successfully re-enter their communities.
About Materials for the Arts (MFTA)
A program of the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, with support from the Department of Education and Friends of Materials for the Arts, MFTA is NYC’s largest reuse center supporting nonprofits with arts programming, public schools, and City agencies. On average MFTA collects over 1.5 million pounds of supplies each year which it provides, free of charge, to its member organizations. In addition to providing materials, MFTA has an Artist-in-Residence program and holds public events every third Thursday of the month which include gallery openings and community workshops. Learn more at www.nyc.gov/mfta.