By R. Ramirez, Contributing Writer
Historical murals are being created by the men of Avenal State Prison’s Facility F yard, capturing the pains and transformations of prison life.
A two-part mural was painted on the Facility F chow hall walls. It aims to tell a compelling story. The paintings begin with incarcerated people working on a chain gang, showcasing one of the first forms of punishment in prison life. The paintings were created to help people visually travel, decade by decade, through what prison was like in those times, according to the artists.
“When I was a child I was surrounded by negative influences inside the household and around the neighborhood,” said A. Dupone, one of the artists. “I used art as a way to get away from all the negativity around me. I would put my ear buds on and listen to some music and block everything out.”
To this day, Dupone stills puts his ear buds on while creating his art, even being incarcerated.
All the artists used real photos from other incarcerated people and correctional officers. They even had a photo of the Folsom warden from back in the 1800s. The artists painted a detailed picture of singer Johnny Cash performing “Folsom Blues” for the prisoners back in the ’60s. The mural ends by capturing life in the Pelican Bay SHU (Security Housing Unit).
“I enjoyed creating art,” said artist R. Hernandez. “I discovered that I had some real art skills back in middle school, but I stopped drawing. It wasn’t till I got incarcerated that I started creating art again and regained my drive for it.”
The second part of the mural displays different self-help programs available on the Facility F yard. One of them is YAPP, a youth diversion program, where troubled youth come to hear testimony from the men who are incarcerated at ASP. The program give the kids a glimpse of how life in prison is.
A third and final piece will be about life after prison. It will consist of people continuing on the right path of rehabilitation. The paintings will display returning people who are working to support themselves and their family. It will also showcase them spending time with family and enjoying the precious moments with people they love.
“I have been drawing since the age of eight,” said W. Carrera, artist. “At that time I knew I had a passion for art, and I still enjoy displaying my art to this day.”
The entire mural crew consists of R. Hernandez, W. Carrera , D. Devine, S. Kaslove, and A. Dupone and R. Ramirez.
“We were are honored and blessed to be able to show our art and talent to Facility F and bring a positive environment to our community,” said the mural crew.