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THE ART OF TRANSFORMATION - Redemption versus Death

Struggle - Luis Maciel

Struggle - Luis Maciel


The Art of Transformation – Redemption versus Death is an exhibition which comprises the artwork and writing by prisoners incarcerated on death row, San Quentin, California.

In April 2015, Nicola White visited her pen-friend in San Quentin, after six years of correspondence. He explained how many inmates use creative expression to escape their present circumstances. ArtReach was born out of the idea of offering these artists a platform to express themselves and share their art. She now works with over 25 prisoners who regularly send her artwork and poems.

An artist herself, Nicola uses items foraged from the Thames foreshore to create collages and sculptures for her Tideline Art. She gives these discarded objects a new purpose and a second chance as works of art. Through ArtReach, she aims to bring those on the fringes of society into the limelight, reminding us that often “these men do have something of value to contribute.”

Nicola White


Artwork is for sale, with proceeds going towards helping inmates to buy art materials. 10% is donated to charity.

Painting, like any art form, whether it’s the performing art or the written art form, creates a focus and a meditative state of mind. I think, why the prisoners paint has to do with healing internal sounds and resolving inner conflicts within themselves and trying to find some redemptive value in their own life. I also think they create art because it comes from a primal need to express themselves in a meaningful way. In many cases these prisoners never had an opportunity to do that
— Steve Champion, age 54, San Quentin death row prisoner since 1984
Earlier Event: April 7
Later Event: May 4