Oregon Prison Art

Oregon Prison Art

Giving incarcerated inmates a chance to express themselves through art can be a very healing opportunity for prisoners, and often this healing through art can give these prisoners a second chance at life and the possibility of reduced rates of recidivism. 

Artist/prisoners, both men and women, incarcerated throughout the Oregon prison system, create art and through the Oregon Prison Art program – these works of art go on public exhibits throughout the community. And the community has received these works with warm and welcome arms. 

The Oregon Prison Art project created a traveling show titled, “Time” – which traveled throughout the state of Oregon, exhibiting the art in various galleries. The traveling exhibit was named Time because prisoners have so much of it. And they also create art of various mediums using limited resources. 

There is tremendous talent hidden behind prison bars. Welcome to this visible manifestation of our culture’s invisible people.


One gallery owner noted about the artists and their work, “There is such a range, from beautiful pictures of animals and nature to pretty out-there, raunchy, unfettered, fettered art.”

The Prison Art project began in 2008 when a counselor with the Red Lodge Transition Services, a half-way house for Native American women prisoners, based in Oregon, began submitting works of art to various galleries. Gallery owners were thrilled with the quality and creativity of many of these works of art. Interest grew to include all prisoners who are currently serving time in Oregon State prisons. 

For so many inmates, having time, doing time, serving time, wasting time – being able to create and share art makes their “time” a bit more worthwhile. 

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