Former Chef Finds Culinary Skills Apply Well to the Art Field
“You know how you do homework? It’s the same thing.” Artist Seth Mathews described the variance in styles and art genres as he displayed photographs of hundreds of pieces, he has done over the last seven years. There are stacks of airy water-color art, with opaque black lines and semi-transparent splatters of color. There are lifelike photorealistic pieces where every line, light source, and graffito is thoughtfully placed. There are perspective artwork pieces, with a worm’s eye view to regal elk stepping into a clearing. There are abstract art, graffiti, and portraits – all which make for an unusual contrast in styles for one artist’s portfolio.
David Whiting Finds Relief From Stress in His Artwork
A uniting factor among incarcerated artists is the therapeutic benefit that art delivers to each practitioner. Each person connects to their art in a unique way, but the benefits are similar and equally inspiring. For David Whiting, a visual artist living at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution, art has become more than just a hobby – it’s a way of life for him.
Whiting began his journey with art more than 20 years ago while sitting in county jail in Eugene. He began by copying cartoons out of newspapers. Navigating the constant stress and pressures of time spent in county, “sketching and tracing became an escape for me, and eventually a meditation,” he says. Once he got to prison, Whiting began experimenting with nature sketches using a wider variety of mediums.
Inspiration is the first step for any artist, the fire starter if you will. But how does an artist seek out or find inspiration in the world? It differs for everyone. Some people find inspiration in nature, religion, or the world around them. Some people wait to be found by inspiration. For artist Wayne Cummins, inspiration found its way to him through friendship.
Cummins met his friend Herb Wood years ago living with him on a housing unit at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution. They became friends through their shared interest in artwork and sketching.
2022 has been a busy year for the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution’s (EOCI) Enrichment Club. Fifteen adults in custody (AIC) volunteered nearly 1,200 hours of their time for fund raisers to help with multiple charitable causes.
So far, $17,609.84 has been donated by AICs, with another $3,000 in donations anticipated by the end of the year.
Some of the organizations that benefit from the Enrichment Clubs hard work include the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse, Pendleton Lions club, they help children get eye exams and glasses, Headstart, Doernbecher’s Children’s Hospital, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and more.
This article was written by the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution’s (EOCI) Supervising Executive Assistant, Chris Scarr. Chris received a call from a former adult in custody (AIC), Brent Leathers. Mr. Leathers graciously offered to donate books to the EOCI’s library. Continue reading about how Chris and Mr. Leathers worked together on the logistics and the excitement that followed, and get an update on Mr. Leathers.
In early June 2022, I received a call from former AIC Brent Leathers. Mr. Leathers informed me he is a member of the Library of America (LOA), a non-profit organization that preserves our nation’s literary heritage. He stated he had been given the opportunity to donate 50 books from LOA and would like to contribute them to the library at EOCI. A value of over $1100. He explained he enjoys reading, and it was reading books more than anything that helped him through his incarceration. He expressed he wanted to give back and hoped others would enjoy the same benefit from reading.
Here is a little history about the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution (EOCI) Joys of Living Assistance Dogs (JLAD) Service dog Program. EOCI started the program in 2016, after almost a year of planning. Approximately 70 percent of the dogs graduate from the program, which is above the national average. The training program started with 16 puppies and has expanded to 32 dogs. Only 16 dogs are trained at any given time, as the dogs are rotated in and out every week.
To bring a little bit of Christmas spirit to adults in custody (AICs) at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution (EOCI), staff from Correctional Rehabilitation helped launch a DOC-friendly version of Elf on the Shelf throughout the month of December.
Because the Elf does not have security clearance to actually enter the prison, he has sent in pictures of himself so AICs can experience some of the mischief Elf on the Shelf gets up to in the homes of American families. The pictures are printed and posted on the unit bulletin boards for all to see. While sharing some light-hearted frivolity around the institution, the project has also generated an interesting amount of conversation between the AICs and their children. Multiple AICs have approached the staff member who is running the project asking what is next for the Elf on the Shelf. Below are some of the photos Elf on the Shelf shared with EOCI.
On Friday, December 6, 2019 graduates of the Blue Mountain Community College (BMCC) GED program walked in a commencement ceremony at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution (EOCI) and were recognized for their accomplishments.
The first Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution (EOCI) family picnic of the year was held on the sunny Saturday of June 22nd. Families gathered on the West yard and in Multi for the daylong event. The day was a total success, with 138 participating AICs and 348 visitors attending!
On June 18, six adults in custody (AICs) at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution (EOCI) graduated as Opioid Peer Recovery Coaches.
The program is designed to have peer coaches who can help other adults in custody who suffer with opioid and other addictions learn the skills needed to transition successfully to the community while recognizing and overcoming their addiction.
Back row, from left – Levon Lord, Joseph Smallwood, Kyron
Trevino, Program Director Ricardo Olalde, Keaton Stephens, Jason Mortenson and
Front Row, from left – Contractor Chaela Manning,
Communicable and Chronic Disease Intervention Coordinator Ann Chakwin, and
Contractor Star Powell.