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Empathy Art Show Opens November 19th

beneath the arteries. A yellow sunflower with healthy green leaves is growing up from the center of the heart. Tan roots emanate from the bottom of the heart stretching down. Blood drips from the main artery and some of the roots. The painting background is black with a white and grayish oval under laying the image of heart-brain-flower. TEXT Reads “ Let’s Get Free’s 5th annual art show for Abolition. Empathy is the seed, truth is the water, solidarity is the bloomage,. Featuring artist on both sides of the prison walls. November 19 through December 19. Brew House 711 S. 21st St. Pgh, PA 15203 creative-resistance.org”

We are enthusiastic to announce Let’s Get Free’s 5th annual art show featuring artists and poets in and outside of prison. This year’s show is themed EMPATHY is the seed, TRUTH is the water, SOLIDARITY is the bloomage, and will be presented in person at the Brew House Gallery as well as on-line. The show will open Friday November 19 from 6:00-9:00 pm, and will run through December 19.

Harmony by Marilyn Dobrolenski

This year’s show features 34 artists in prison and 29 artists in solidarity expressing a range of media, from watercolor to cross stitch to sculpture. First-time participant Marilyn Dobrolenski submitted a beautiful piece entitled “Harmony,” which features a lush and verdant wetland scene with water lilies, done in acrylic paint. Marilyn turned 69 this year and is one of over 70 women serving a life sentence over the age of 65. #LetGrandmaGo

A painting of a multifaceted device with parts that exist in two different environments, one above ground and one below ground. Above ground has a blue-gray background and shows a circular antenna with a plaque that reads “Truth single and eternal alive in glory”. Below ground, which has a brown and green background, the device is made up of wires, pipes, and two hearts with gears. Water passes in a cycle between the two hearts. Two plaques read: “One heart pumps the other”, and “And the vital many”.
Elena House-Hay

Elena House-Hay submitted a thought provoking piece of a mechanized device that is exploring ideas about “truth.” Elena shares: “Being an artist in prison functions to make art my hard earned salvation. It is restorative, unshakable hope. If my art can be free – of prison, depression, and fear – so can I. And that is the promise, the lure, and the most ambitious expression I can seek.”

A large transgender symbol fading from light blue to pink and outlined in blue is on top of a bright background of crisp rainbow stripes (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple). Inside of the transgender symbol are stylized cartoon images of 12 different people’s faces and torsos, most of whom are black but representing a range of skin tones. The people show a range of gender presentations and styles.
Tranzcending by Kal – El

Kal-El, one of 5 transgender artists participating from prison,  shares a vibrant painting that celebrates the existence of many genders. The experience of trans people in prison is often left out of conversations about mass incarceration. In our efforts to create less distance between the prison walls, Empathy is the Seed uplifts marginalized voices who can teach a lot about what is needed to build a more just world. Kal-El, currently serving a life sentence, discusses his experience of being an artist: “I see color when I listen to music or feel emotions. I thought everyone had this ability. I never knew that I could put those colors on to a canvas and people could see what I was feeling that day. Sharing these feelings verbally is difficult. A painting, to me, is like telling someone when I’m sad, mad, etc..” 

Alongside our virtual art show, this is our first year including poetry. Over 40 poets from the inside have sent in poems! Look forward to at least one poetry reading during the show. Other events include: 

  • Art Opening and Auction Begins! Friday November 19, 6:00-9:00 pm – Brew House, 711 21st Street, South Side of Pittsburgh
  • Gallery Hours: November 19 – December 19, Thursdays 2:00-7:00 pm, Fridays & Saturdays 11:00-4:00 pm at the Brew House
  • The Sacred Ground Collective transformative justice event series: Thursdays December 2, 9, & 16th, Three virtual workshops including an intro to transformative justice practice 
  • Holiday Market: Saturday and Sunday December 18 and 19, 11 – 3 pm
On the left is a series of six pieces of featured in the show. The top left has a colorful depiction of mechanized hearts with pipes and steam, a watercolor of two people watching the video and the light of the video projector is casing a ray, then the face of an aging man painted with coffee, next is a papercut of a crab carrying a sea urchin, then an agave plant growing behind the prison fence, and a watercolor of a woman wearing glasses and a rainbow colored mask and earrings holding a bouquet of flowers. TEXT READS: “Let’s get free presents empathy is the seed, truth is the water, Solidarity is the Bloomage Art show opening. Friday November 19 6 to 9 PM Brew House 711 S. 21st St. southside. Auction begins, DJ, art sale, please mask up”

Full list of Events, Auction/Contest Info and Online Gallery will be available at creative-resistance.org

The Art Auction begins on opening night and runs through December 10th. People can bid in person at the gallery or online. Winners will be able to pick up their art on December 19th or schedule pick up at a later time. All money raised supports the work of Let’s Get Free. Money will be used in printing and shipping for our newsletter and Daughter’s magazine, copious postage needs, direct support for people coming home, like driving lessons and art supply scholarships for people on the inside. There will be a series of limited edition prints available to people who sign up to become monthly sustainers. 

Art as a tool for liberation has been a central element of Let’s Get Free’s work since its inception, and its annual art shows have steadily built advocacy for the release of deserving individuals from Pennsylvania state prisons and have created conversations and collaborations that invite meaningful reciprocity between the prison walls. 

Two large open hands are cupped holding some seeds in their palms. The seeds are brown with white stripes defining them. The word “Empathy” is spelled out across the seeds, one letter on a seed. The skin tone of these hands are a bit ambiguous; the palms could be a person of any race though the highlighting around the edges suggest someone of African descent. The background is a deep dark blue and in the right corner is a yellow signature of the artist “Van 21” TEXT READS: Gallery hours. Brew House 711 S. 21st St. southside. November 20 to December 19. Thursday 2 to 7 PM Friday and Saturday 11 to4 PM
Painting by Darrell Van Mastrigt

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Contact: etta cetera: letstgetfreepa(at)gmail.com

Website: creative-resistance.org and letsgetfree.info

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