Building off the success of August’s First Thursday art event, Lonnie Nettles, Thane King, and Joe Parker decided it was time to harness the talent of the individuals who come in and out of the Mead Building every day. For the first time ever, they invited DCJ clients to submit artwork to be displayed through February. Ten clients responded and with the help from Regional Arts and Culture Council, art was framed and hung in the front window and lobby area.
A First Thursday event was held on Thursday November 5th to kick off the exhibit and it proved to be a huge success. The exhibit, titled “Transformations” in honor of the work DCJ clients do to move through the stages of change, brought art from clients to the walls of a once sterile lobby environment. The lobby of the Mead Building downtown is normally bustling with activity as staff and clients make their way to and from check-ins, court hearings, and the services DCJ provides for mental health, substance abuse, education, and employment. But on this day it was bustling with six of the contributing artists and First Thursday attendees.
Titles like “Loneliness,” “Without a Net,” and “Fortune Teller,” help the art tell the stories of the artists. A bold handprint over a carefully drawn face, a lone wolf, and vivid abstract paintings were just a few of the pieces featured in the show. One trio of paintings were completed over the course of substance abuse treatment, ending in a beautiful, healthy tree. A pencil drawing of a Parole/Probation Officer (PPO) hung as a tribute to the support the artist felt from her time working with that PPO. The artist, Alison Segler, shared that when she draws, she can concentrate better. She can objectively look at her art to identify where she can improve and do better. She uses that knowledge for herself now, and was overjoyed to be featured in the art show saying, “I appreciate the opportunity to show that I am more than just a felon.”
Another artist, Bret Pruett, called out his Parole/Probation Officer and thanked him for being a no-nonsense law enforcement officer who shows up and displays genuine concern for the people he supervises. He went on to say, “art is what I’ve done all my life to maintain my sanity and I’m just glad to be able to give back.” Chair Kafoury attended and was presented with several original pieces. Visibly moved by the gesture she said “I’m very touched.” Thane King, who was instrumental for pulling this event together, was also presented with a piece of art.
This show, likely the first of its kind hosted by a probation and parole department, is an example of the kinds of activities that DCJ aims to promote- providing pro-social activities that can contribute to our clients getting back on their feet. As Lonnie Nettles shared at the event, “these individuals provided act of restorative justice, [helping to make] DCJ a welcoming part of our community…. We really believe in transformation here, we call it stages of change.”