Their Hearts Into Art
Incarcerated students’ work exhibits ingenuity and passion
Cobb’s art students are inmates at the Bernalillo Metropolitan Detention Center. They study at the Gordon Bernell Charter School—one 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.
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.
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
Hours: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday 10am-6pm; Thursday 11am-7pm; closed Sunday and Monday