Cellblock Art: Set Free in the Penitentiary

  • Saturday, April 21, 2018
  • 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
  • Berkshire Museum, 39 South Street, Pittsfield, Mass. 01201

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Cellblock Art: Set Free in the Penitentiary

An illustrated talk by Phyllis Kornfeld
author of
Cellblock Visions: Prison Art in America

Saturday, April 21st, 3pm
Berkshire Museum, Pittsfield

Join us for the first illustrated talk in OLLI's 2018 Distinguished Speakers Series. Tickets may be ordered online by clicking here, over the phone at 413.236.2190, or are available at the door: $10 for OLLI and Berkshire Museum members; $15 for the general public; free for youth 17 & under and BCC students. Forum credit available.

Artist, author, and educator Phyllis Kornfeld has worked closely with incarcerated men and women around the country for 35 years—in all levels of security from county jail to maximum security to death row—providing the transformative experience of creating sincere and beautiful art.

Her presentation is a look at the powerful drawings, paintings and objects created by the people she met. The artists are quoted. They are candid and insightful about their lives, their art and their imprisonment.

She is the author of Cellblock Visions: Prison Art in America (Princeton University Press), a surprising collection of artwork created behind bars. The artists transcend the cramped space, limited light, and narrow vistas. They triumph over security bans with ingenious resourcefulness - extracting color from shampoo, making paint out of M & Ms and sculpture out of toilet paper.

Musician and author David Byrne described Cellblock Visions as "powerful and beautiful stuff that, once again, makes us question our sometimes stupid definitions of art.... In an America that is in the process of returning to the medieval idea of prisons as a place of punishment and revenge, as opposed to places of rehabilitation and healing, here is a tiny ray of hope. Here is art that evidences deep and personal healing and lasting change."

The art itself, and Kornfeld’s experiences behind bars with the men and women who live there, deliver irrefutable evidence that people in prison have the same very human capacity, and desire, to create beauty and goodness. That potential exists in all of us, no less in an incarcerated person, and can be elicited just as violence can.




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OLLI: the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College
Partners in education with Williams College, Bard College at Simon's Rock and the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts

1350 West Street | Pittsfield, MA 01201 | 413.236.2190 | olli@berkshirecc.edu

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