Studio B in Boyertown Prison Art Exhibition

The Studio B Fine Art Gallery in Boyertown will host “Prison Art and Experience,” a discussion and the opening of an art exhibit.

Former inmate Joe Romeri and Jody Guy, executive director and founder of the Wilkinsburg Civic Center, will visit Studio B from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. on October 24 to talk about the prison experience and the role art plays in it. life of a prisoner. Author and historian Bob Wood will moderate the discussion.

A vernissage of the exhibition in the Gray Gallery of the studio is scheduled for Friday, October 29, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. A virtual opening on Facebook LIVE (https://fb.me/e/KrTMKIl2) will take place at 6 p.m. and a brief video tour of the exhibition will showcase the artwork. The exhibition, a complement to the studio’s “Abstract, Impressionism and Real Estate” exhibition will run until November 28.

The exhibition of art and the experience of prisoners, represented by inmate Richard A. Guy, will have as a focal point the art course in pencil drawing offered to hundreds of prisoners at the State Correctional Institution of Fayette.

“The focus of the class enabled each inmate to overcome the restrictive prison environment to see the world from a new perspective and express themselves through the visual arts,” Guy said in a prepared statement.

To enhance the spectacle and effectively communicate the prison experience to clients, a publication of Department of Corrections materials and supporting references will be on display, offering a perspective on rules, policies and procedures, including art materials. allowed, religious activities and rules of housing units. Statements and artist profiles will provide additional information.

In his statement, Guy offered several insights to consider. First, due to COVID, no art classes have been taught since March 2020. The facility remains in a lockdown cohort status that was just relaxed several weeks ago. All designs predate Locked Status. All 3D art was done in the cell during COVID.

Second, the majority of pencil drawings were made by students who had no prior art education or experience.

“What these prisoners have done and accomplished in the hours and hours of daily practice is remarkable! Guy said. “Some of the arts depicted in greeting cards, tattoo designs, handkerchiefs, and envelopes may seem simplistic, but represent amazing artistic achievements accomplished in prison for self-improvement.”

Third, most of the designs were “traditional” art; landscapes, still lifes and portraits, notes Guy.

“The students did this by design and choice. Most turned to the traditional because it had a greater meaning and a greater sense of accomplishment for them. Sending a landscape to family and friends was much more desirable than sending home a still life from a prison cell, ”he said.

Author of the exhibition: Richard A. Guy – History and contributions

The origins of the exhibit began in 2013 with a letter from Richard A. Guy, a man serving a life sentence at LaBelle State Correctional Facility in Fayette County. He offered to organize an exhibition of works of art by his fellow inmates as a contribution to the library’s art lending program. In his letter, he mentions having learned about the library’s program and talks about it to some of his co-inmates, very good artists, with the idea of ​​giving them a trail of creativity and supporting the library in his project.

The plan was to show 20 works of art, but word spread and some inmates donated 30 pieces eager to ensure they were included in the show. The library launched The Prism Project’s first exhibition, “Inside Artists Reaching Out”. The 25 exhibits were available to visitors; another group of donated items were on display, including handmade cards, a dollhouse, and folded paper jewelry boxes.

Richard A. Guy’s first cousin, Jody Guy, represented him at the opening show and read his speech in front of a crowd of around 80 people. Guy spent over 30 years in the state prison system for the stabbing death of a friend after an argument. In an interview in 1995, he said he was eaten away by vodka and valium at the time. Guy had been a senior teenage tennis player and had served 4 years in the US Navy.

While in prison, Guy graduated with honors from the Psychology program at the University of Pittsburgh at SCI-Pittsburgh, where he taught other inmates to speak in public, became active in the Jaycees, a was president of a program for people at risk. youth, and designed the engagement campaign to provide baseball equipment to local Little League teams.

He has been active in sports, social activities and education; he plays the keyboard and the saxophone in groups and shows; served as captain and played in inter-varsity basketball, softball and volleyball athletic teams and as intramural league basketball and volleyball commissioner. He has coached and played on over 25 intramural championship teams and received the Department of Corrections Athlete of the Year award. He has been a leader and role model for his peers, demonstrating discipline, teamwork, and moving his life forward in a positive direction. He is also a state licensed PIAA basketball official.

He became a communications instructor, administered tests, kept all University of Pittsburgh records, and served as the Outpatient Instructor Orientation Coordinator. He graduated from the Ministry of Correction’s First National Thresholds Program and taught decision-making skills. As secretary of the PA Lifer’s Organization, he has created workshops and symposia focused on parole eligibility issues for lifers. Her charitable work includes chartering the “Shots for Tots,” a Pittsburgh Pirates alumni group event; the expansion of a Veterans Day ceremony; launch a biennial Girl Scout cookie sale; and as a peer facilitator for the Department of Corrections citizenship course, teaching civic pride and personal responsibility in prisons.

He co-founded the Drexel Literature Project designed around Drexel honorary students sending readings of classic English literature and relevant questions to inmates for analytical study and academic interaction. Currently, Guy is a Therapeutic Community Facilitator after Reintegration Services Care, Education Department Block Tutor, Art Class Instructor, Sports Official, Coach and Mentor for Children. other inmates.

The exhibition and the opening are free and open to the public; all COVID security protocols will be followed during the in-person reception. In addition, the gallery invites visitors on Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. or by appointment by contacting Susan Biebuyck, [email protected], 484-332-2757 or Jane Stahl, [email protected], 610-563 -7879.

Studio B, located in the heart of historic Boyertown, is home to the Arts and Activities Alliance, a Building a Better Boyertown committee, a Main Street non-profit program dedicated to small town revitalization.

Studio B, 39A East Philadelphia Avenue in Boyertown, celebrates lifelong learning, creativity and personal involvement in the visual and communication arts and seeks to be a vibrant part of the Boyertown community, a must-see destination for learning, fun and friendship. The studio seeks to present the work of fine artists in thematic exhibitions – some with jury, others open to all – and welcomes art in various media. In addition to art exhibitions, workshops and classes, Studio B also organizes activities and informal meetings on a variety of topics for small groups or meetings, gallery discussions and ‘Get to Know You’ opportunities. .

Visitors are always welcome to view the changing exhibits; take visual, literary and communication arts courses offered by highly qualified local artists and teachers; and schedule small events or parties in its elegant facilities. The studio proudly collaborates with the many unique businesses in the Boyertown community.


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Reggie S. Williams