Art has many “therapeutic” qualities and these have been widely explored and studied. Insofar as art is an expression arising from the very heart of human subjectivity, artistic activity usually increases our consciousness of elements inside ourselves which we often ignore but which need to be taken care of. Even when we participate as mere spectators —reading, looking at paintings, attending an exhibition— it’s possible to experience a deep connection between areas of being which had previously seemed distant from one another.

Guided by this principle, a pair of Finnish artists is developing a project to heal, through art, one of the relationships most deteriorated in any society: that between prisoners and free citizens.

The initiative was taken up by Anastasia Artemeva and Sonny “Elinkautinen” Black (Sonny Nyman), both residents of Helsinki. Artemeva is a multidisciplinary artist with a penchant for installations, and Sonny “Elinkautinen” Black is a musician who spent some years in prison. Each of them had the idea of ​​using art as a link between inmates and free people. This couldn’t work in just one direction, as sometimes happens with such projects, but needed to be an authentic circle of exchange, in which both the incarcerated and the free people know the circumstances of one another and can reflect on them.

In Let It Out, the artists brought together inmates and ordinary people to participate in an art workshop. As the name implies, the goal was to “let it all out,” not only with reference to the prisoners but above all, to that which lives inside of each of us and which for whatever reason we learn to repress, and to imprison within ourselves. Through activities like poetry, painting, and music, beyond the realization that there’s no real reason to contain our subjectivity, that most authentic part of ourselves, we also discover that we can connect more sincerely with other people. We do so by then looking beyond their appearances but to their real dimensions, in what they have, uniquely, in and of themselves.

This is but a part of the larger project which has included activities with the aim of highlighting the elements of the relationship between society and its prisoners. And this, as we well know, is often clouded by all kinds of prejudice.

But as can be seen, few things like art to clearly show the link between us and them, prisoners and free people, for what we are underneath it all: people.

 

 

 

Image: Barnellbe – Creative Commons

Art has many “therapeutic” qualities and these have been widely explored and studied. Insofar as art is an expression arising from the very heart of human subjectivity, artistic activity usually increases our consciousness of elements inside ourselves which we often ignore but which need to be taken care of. Even when we participate as mere spectators —reading, looking at paintings, attending an exhibition— it’s possible to experience a deep connection between areas of being which had previously seemed distant from one another.

Guided by this principle, a pair of Finnish artists is developing a project to heal, through art, one of the relationships most deteriorated in any society: that between prisoners and free citizens.

The initiative was taken up by Anastasia Artemeva and Sonny “Elinkautinen” Black (Sonny Nyman), both residents of Helsinki. Artemeva is a multidisciplinary artist with a penchant for installations, and Sonny “Elinkautinen” Black is a musician who spent some years in prison. Each of them had the idea of ​​using art as a link between inmates and free people. This couldn’t work in just one direction, as sometimes happens with such projects, but needed to be an authentic circle of exchange, in which both the incarcerated and the free people know the circumstances of one another and can reflect on them.

In Let It Out, the artists brought together inmates and ordinary people to participate in an art workshop. As the name implies, the goal was to “let it all out,” not only with reference to the prisoners but above all, to that which lives inside of each of us and which for whatever reason we learn to repress, and to imprison within ourselves. Through activities like poetry, painting, and music, beyond the realization that there’s no real reason to contain our subjectivity, that most authentic part of ourselves, we also discover that we can connect more sincerely with other people. We do so by then looking beyond their appearances but to their real dimensions, in what they have, uniquely, in and of themselves.

This is but a part of the larger project which has included activities with the aim of highlighting the elements of the relationship between society and its prisoners. And this, as we well know, is often clouded by all kinds of prejudice.

But as can be seen, few things like art to clearly show the link between us and them, prisoners and free people, for what we are underneath it all: people.

 

 

 

Image: Barnellbe – Creative Commons