A new art exhibit with paintings from inmates is being displayed in Troy University’s International Arts Center.
Sharon Everhardt (chair of Anthropology, Sociology & Criminology and an associate professor of sociology) and Stephen Carmody (associate professor of social science) partnered with Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama.
The goal is to educate the inmates about horticulture and nutrition, as well as support the women and their artwork.
Inmates have the option to join the Troy-Tutwiler Garden Program and gain knowledge through the 15-week Fundamentals of Gardening class.
The class is held weekly and is available year-round.
The initiative of the program is to support the women and make sure they do not have to return to prison.
The commitment to the program is for life, and the inmates can still choose to participate even after they are released.
This semester, the women who are in the program participated in a painting course led by Dr. Kelly Berwager.
All pieces in the exhibit are pieces the inmates created with inspiration from their gardens and their imaginations, and all paintings are accompanied by an artist’s statement.
Everhardt is one of the founders of this program.
“The inspiration for this program comes from working directly with incarcerated women, and when you work with incarcerated women you learn that they are humans just like us,” Everhardt said.
“In exchange, they teach us life lessons like never taking anything for granted, especially our freedom, so this is 100% about humans helping other humans.”
Carrie Jaxon, a curator of the International Arts Center, is looking forward to having this exhibit be displayed.
“The IAC is thrilled to help support such a wonderful art and garden therapy program for the Tutwiler inmates that has blossomed out of these professors’ initiatives,” Jaxon said.
Those who visit the exhibit will also be able to hear the inmates tell their stories through the audio they captured to place within the exhibit.
It is encouraged that everyone listens as they enter the exhibit to view the artwork.
The paintings will be available for purchase at $50 each, and all proceeds will be given to the artists.
The exhibit is up now through February 1.
For more information on the exhibit or how to purchase a painting, please contact the International Arts Center via email at IAC@troy.edu.
There is a virtual option to donate money to the Tutwiler Garden Program on the Troy University webpage.