Friday, August 24, 2012

Photographing reconciliation

Ryan Lobo's experience photographing Liberian ex-war lord Joshua is an extraordinary picture of reconciliation (from about 3:00 to 6:00):

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

In America, Prison Painting Work Continues

The latest since returning to America:

-Over one hundred never before seen artworks have been added to the online archive of inmate artwork in the last month, including all of the images from my collaborative hand painting project.  I plan on having an "official release" of the website soon, but here is your sneak preview:

-I am grateful to the women who participated in the collaborative hand painting project for giving me ownership of their hand painting photos.  I have been preparing for an art festival on Aug. 25 and 26th in Alpharetta, Ga by making prints of the artwork from this project.  Half of all proceeds will go directly towards Phoenix Zululand!  Examples pictured above.

-You can support Phoenix right now by purchasing a print at!

-Working with World Learning to produce a video summarizing the project.  The video is almost complete and will be published on World Learning's Youtube channel soon.

-Phoenix Director Nonceba Lushaba has nominated my project for the Patricia Smith Melton Art of Peace Award.  Hoping for the best!  

-Some recent press coverage.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Painting with Qomdeni

Qomdeni, myself and Phoenix Facilitator Thembaletu.  Photo by Jon.

On my last day at Eshowe Women's Prison.  It is a "plastic bag society" - everything brought into the prison must be in a plastic bag.
While painting for a second time with Qomdeni, she said "Before you came, I didn't know I could draw.  But now I have made drawings that I love."  She said she would have labeled everything in the drawing but no one would help her (she never learned to write).  I realized that drawing pictures is the closest thing she has to writing.

She does not have any drawing materials.  Today was my last day in the prison.  When I went in to give her the photo of her hand painting, I also gave her all my colored pencils, a pencil sharpener, a pencil case that was given to me years ago and some paper in a folder.  I hope she knows that she has given me much more.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Saturday, July 14, 2012

How Should We Give Help?

Richard Aitkin's tongue-in-cheek revsion of a famous passage from the book of Matthew (orginal follows):

"'I was hungry, so you drew up budgets and formulated programmes which taught me how to sustain my dietary needs; I was thirsty, so you enabled me to launch and advocate for water projects so that I should not go thirsty again; I was a stranger, and people thought of me as the alien "other" and so you put me into language and enculturation classes so I could learn how to fit in; I needed clothes, so you budgeted for a sewing project and stressed that we must think about the sustainability of our team of sewing ladies; I was sick, so you came to the conclusion that I was not looking after myself well and my body's immune system was compromised, so you developed a healthcare programme and made me learn it; I was in prison, and so you contructed a very full programme whereby I could learn self esteem and also improve my job interview skills, so I would get a job and not be at risk of re-offending. " 

The (original passage) invites us to participate, with open hearts unconstrained by norms and standards: "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you invited me in; I needed clothes and you clothed me; I was sick, and you looked after me; I was in prison and you came to visit me.'" -Matthew 25:35-36