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 Francisco's Artwork Featured at the Salem Art Association

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Francisco's Artwork Featured at the Salem Art Association

Katie Dwyer

After a wonderfully attended opening night, Francisco's work was displayed in May and June 2018 at the Salem Art Association. 

The artwork featured in this show revolved around themes specifically related to incarceration and criminal justice. Not only are these moving as visual pieces, but they hold deep symbolic meaning. Here is the longer artist description for the piece "Civil Death." 

Civil Death .jpg
Civil Death

Being incarcerated puts us outside the consideration of society. To the outside world we who are in prison are at times presumed dead, so the skull face is not about how I see myself but how others may see me or don’t. However, the hands of flesh defiantly declare “I Am Alive” to remind the viewer that this person matters and is not dead. 

The writing in the background is about the effects of warehousing people. With so many resources devoted to prison beds and not enough to programs such as education, people will earn an “ACTTD” or Associates of Criminal Thinking Transfer Degree. They will transfer this degree to the streets, as 98% of all prisoners will be released. Many people come to prison because they lack empathy and so they dehumanize their neighbor. Yet for many, while in prison, these same value shortfalls will be reinforced if no real opportunities for change are provided. They will learn Dehumanization 101, Education is a Privilege 102, No Empathy 103, and so on. This is the education that prisoners receive as a result of mass incarceration. People are locked up in cages with very few rights or ways to better themselves. I believe that our society has to ask itself, “How is this system of revenge making our society any better?” There are better ways.

“Civil Death” is also about the stereotypes, prejudices, and discrimination that incarcerated people face even when they are released and have paid for their crimes. In many states, ex-felons are not allowed to participate as citizens. Denying civil rights is a system that further degrades instead of creating good citizenship and inclusiveness. Disenfranchisement does not promote rehabilitation and says that one cannot be a full part of the community.

The cage number with the infinity sign represents the millions of people incarcerated and the future millions if nothing changes in our current system.