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Arts

Their Hearts Into Art

Incarcerated students’ work exhibits ingenuity and passion


[click to enlarge]
Ronald Chavez aka Dreamer
“Envelope art is a strong tradition in the jails,” says Juli Cobb. “We will have a number of them displayed at the Library. Most students work with ball point pens and the detail and shading is remarkable.”
[click to enlarge]
Hendrick Yellowhorse
“Envelope art is a strong tradition in the jails,” says Juli Cobb. “We will have a number of them displayed at the Library. Most students work with ball point pens and the detail and shading is remarkable.”
Where Juli Cobb teaches, the school uniform is orange, the attendance rate is almost perfect, and the atmosphere can be stressful: “There are doors that clang and dogs that come in and sniff things,” she says.

Cobb’s art students are inmates at the Bernalillo Metropolitan Detention Center. They study at the Gordon Bernell Charter Schoolone of only two full high schools in the US housed in a jail. (The other one is in San Francisco.)

The students have to be creative at developing projects from the get-go. “I can’t bring many things in there that are second nature to an art teacher,” Cobb says. Everything is a potential weapon, including scissors and heavy objects. Even ink is forbidden in order to prevent illicit prison tattoos.

So when they were supposed to design objects for the OFFCenter Community Arts Project’s “Albuquirky Little Houses” Silent Auction, for which artists usually construct diminutive homes out of wood, Cobb was at a loss. She bunted the problem to her class and the resourceful students decided to draw the shapes onto paper and collage together the walls of each house.

Quirky houses decorated by Gordon Bernell students
Ron Breen
Quirky houses decorated by Gordon Bernell students
Home is where I left my heART: Writings and Art for Our Families from Afar, the Gordon Bernell students’ upcoming exhibit at the Special Collections Library (423 Central NE), will put similar creative solutions on display with a collaborative quilt of collages expressing memories of the students' kitchen tables and several collaborative mosaics of mini-masterpiece paintings. In addition, you can scope envelope art, handmade poetry books and more from Cobb’s students and those of colleague and co-exhibit coordinator Andrea Fletcher.

Cobb’s average students are in their early twenties to mid-thirties. “If they have a GED but they don’t have a diploma, they can take classes,” Cobb explains. The students tend to be highly motivated yet extremely unsure of themselves. Unlike some teenage “know-it-alls” in regular high schools, these older students suffer from real problems with self-esteem. And when students come in depressed, “something is going on.” Are they worrying about a court date? Are they missing their children?

However, mostly the students are lighthearted in class. “I’ve got a ton of students now that I care about,” Cobb says. “The classes are so joyful. They love being in school.” See that love and redemption shining through at the opening reception for Home is where I left my heart on Thursday, May 22, from 4 to 6:30pm.

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Home is where I left my heART:
Writings and Art for Our Families from Afar
opening reception

Exhibit continues through June 21

Thursday, May 22, 4 to 6:30pm

Special Collections Library
423 Central NE
abclibrary.org/specialcollections, 848-1376
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10am-6pm; Thursday 11am-7pm; closed Sunday and Monday
V.23 No.20 | 5/15/2014
“El Susurro Pasado”
Deborah Rael-Buckley

Arts Feature

Honoring the Hidden

Crypto-Jewish identity and tradition shine in new exhibit

Celebrate the intersection of Crypto-Jewish and Hispano life that has persevered for centuries behind New Mexico’s dusty backdrop in a lush new exhibit.
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Book Review

Urban Jungle

The London Jungle Book

“An artist goes where there is work.” Gond artist Bhajju Shyam went to London and saw it like it’s never been seen before.

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Arts

Blossoming Impossibly

Three Harwood artists celebrate springtime

“A Second Life” by Karl Hofmann
“A Second Life” by Karl Hofmann
May has arrived, bringing flowers and new exhibits by three budding New Mexico artists at the Harwood Art Center: Ken Frink, Karl Hofmann and KB Jones. Taken together, the trio conveys a rebirth, a springtime ecstasy, a surge of intense emotions or a revelation. If you come to the Harwood Art Center, be prepared to take in something that we don’t hear much about these daysat least not in the news: Hope abounds, and there’s pleasure to be had in “creating moments of order in a sea of chaos.”

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V.23 No.19 | 5/8/2014
“The Church at Ranchos de Taos” by Bill Wittliff

Get Lit

Light Looking Back

With their indefinite lines and smoothed-away textures, pinhole photographs hearken to a long-ago time. But Poetics of Light brings the technology firmly into the 21st century.

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CC BY evoo73 photography

Summer Guide 2014

Summer Activity Guide for Kids

Campin’ it up in ABQ

Weekly Alibi has it on good authority that both kids and parents want summer fun. So explore all the youth camps Burque has to offer.

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V.23 No.17 | 4/24/2014
Artist: Monsh
Lisa Barrios • flickr.com/marigoldz

Arts Feature

The Words of the Prophets are Written on Arroyo Walls

Albuquerque's spray-can psychogeography

Love graffiti or hate it, a map of a city of the unseen awaits you on Albuquerque’s streets.

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V.23 No.16 | 4/17/2014
“Abstract Landscape #3,” serigraph, 24 x 36 in.
William Lumpkins

Culture Shock

Warm and fuzzy Lumpkins

Scope Culture Shock for what’s best in this artful world. This week: new William Lumpkins, bibliophile pr0n, urban renewal keynote and famous authors in a Fe movie theater.

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Book Review

Color Me Curious

The Color Book

Sophie Benini Pietromarchi’s charismatic Color Book aims to awaken a love of the visible spectrum in pre-teens (and older readers who haven’t outgrown a nice picture book with lots of vivid spreads to mull over).

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