Rehabilitative power of art displayed in Fresno

Art of incarcerated students showcases talents at City Hall

Inside the walls of Fresno City Hall, the public viewed art work created by incarcerated students from four CDCR institutions.

The Fresno Art Hop in July was a unique collaboration bringing together CDCR, Arts in Corrections and the Fresno Arts Council. Incarcerated artists submitted paintings, sketches and poetry for the event. The gallery setting highlighted their creative efforts and artistic vision.

Given visual and written prompts by their instructors, the artists responded, resulting in the show.

This Arts in Corrections Exhibit included art from:

  • Avenal State Prison
  • Pleasant Valley State Prison
  • Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison
  • Valley State Prison

The innovative arts program taught by instructors Gema Lopez, Omar Natafji and Sally Vogl, all from the Fresno Arts Council, included submissions from each of the three disciplines offered at Pleasant Valley: visual arts, songwriting and poetry.

The 16-week sessions teach the basics of each arts program offering theory, instructor-led exercises and techniques. The classes act as catalysts for the incarcerated students’ creativity.

A benefit of the Arts in Corrections program is the development of new personal and social identities as artists and poets. This offers participants an alternative self view, fostering positive change. In addition, the arts program promotes group interactions, cultivating social responsibility, according to program instructors.

Submitted by Lieutenant Carlos Mendoza

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