Tulsa Inmates Channel Art Into Life Skills

Wednesday, March 2nd 2016, 6:04 pm
By: News On 6

Art is one way inmates can work on improving their lives while behind bars.

Several Tulsa County inmates recently competed in and won a national art competition.

The teacher says it gives inmates a sense of confidence and self worth.

There were three first-place winners at the Tulsa County jail, including a piece of art drawn by a 17 year old.

When inmates in the juvenile pod at David L. Moss Correction Facility look out of their cells, they see a huge mural. It brings color to an otherwise bland room and was painted by juvenile inmates and renowned artist Emanuel Martinez.

"Emanuel Martinez came to Tulsa to work with the students and paint the mural,” teacher Sherri Knight said. “He was here for two weeks, and that's what they created."

Martinez hosts a nationwide art competition called the Emanuel Project.

Knight told the students they would be entered in the competition.

“The contest is therapeutic,” she said. “It puts them into a nice spot to look forward to things."

A 17 year old won first place using colored pencils to draw Route 66.

Another first-place winner drew a picture called "My Child."

A third inmate won first in the mixed media category drawing another portrait.

“So excited because they won pizza and art supplies,” Knight said.

It's a skill her students can use far past the competition.

“Anything to keep their mind in a healthy spot, helps them throughout the day and evening, they can use art,” she said. “They can draw in their room and it keeps them going."

This is an annual competition, and Knight plans to enter her students in next year's competition as well.