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.
The Snake River Correctional Institution’s (SRCI) Resource Team recently participated in a very special dinner with Peer Mentor and Resource Team member, Galvin Lomboy who expressed how the Peer Mentorship has changed his life as an adult in custody (AIC). The dinner was made possible by the SRCI Correctional Rehabilitation team.
During the special event, AIC Lomboy articulated how he could not stop thinking about all the opportunities to better himself, and how he would dial in on the focus of his goals after incarceration and his desire to help others. In short, he expressed his goals to continue the humanitarian path after he has finished his sentence. He talked about his gratitude for all the support, advice, and guidance of the Resource Team. He continued to name each member and how much he has learned from each person in different ways.
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.
Adults in custody (AIC) at Coffee Creek Correctional Facility (CCCF) have an opportunity to learn a new trade skill for jobs post-incarceration.
The Department of Corrections (DOC) recently received a three-year grant through the Bureau of Justice Assistance Second Chance Act. This grant allows DOC to offer an industry recognized certification program through Baker Technical Institute (BTI) for AICs to become Heavy Equipment Operators. The new program uses simulation technology to train women at the correctional facility to use heavy construction machinery.
The AICs will also be trained on First Aid and CPR, Flagger Certification, and Forklift Certification. Wraparound services are also included, such as resume writing, job search assistance, and connections to WorkSource Oregon.
Cassandra Kuhr is one of the adults in custody that graduated from the program, and she has graciously shared her story.
The Sagebrush in Prisons Project (SPP) is a unique collaboration among the Oregon Department of Correction, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Institute for Applied Ecology (IAE). The goal of the project is to engage incarcerated men and women in habitat restoration and ecological science.
Warner Creek Correctional Facility (WCCF) became the first Oregon Department of Corrections facility to open a Transitional Community Unit (TCU).
The TCU will provide a more normalized environment due to living in a retrofitted housing unit with less of a population than other units for the adults in custody (AIC). Other privileges include are more storage, area rugs in the bunk areas, dividers, and partitions between the bunk areas, vending machines, washers, dryers, and toaster ovens.
South Fork Forest Camp (SFFC) recently partnered with the Joys of Living Assistance Dogs (JLAD), a non-profit organization dedicated to training and raising service dogs. Their mission is to provide skilled, devoted service dogs to support and assist persons living with disabilities – creating cohesive teams focused on building a life of greater freedom and independence. The adults in custody (AICs) train them, and then the dogs are placed with individuals that need them.
Last week, SFFC received their first set of eight puppies who will be rotated through SFFC four at a time. These dedicated AICs at SFFC put their hearts and souls into these dogs, and clearly the dogs do wonders for these individuals too. Below are testimonials from AICs talking about how the program has, and will, impact their lives.
“I have been incarcerated for 10 years. During my time of incarceration, I have managed to accomplish many programs and developed skills to use in the workforce.
I have worked in maintenance for 2 years, then I worked in the welding shop for 3 years, and currently I work in the electrical shop for the past 5 years. I am also a Fitness/Yoga Instructor for the mental health AICs. For 3 years, I have been a mentor for other AICs to inspire them to take the road less traveled.
This October, I successfully completed the Electrical Apprenticeship Program. I am now a licensed Journeyman Electrician. With the electrical license and skills, I have developed, I will be financially stable with a career that is in high demand.
I am proud of my accomplishments and grateful for the support of my family, friends, and the staff here at Two Rivers Correctional Institution for contributing in guiding me through this journey of learning and growing into the fullness of my potential.”
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