August 3 – September 2, 2017
Although initiated in 2010, Created with Dignity is only the 2nd exhibition of artwork submitted by inmates of Manitoba Correctional Institutions to the annual art contest sponsored by the Manitoba Multifaith Council. Coordinated through the Community Safety Division of Manitoba Justice, participation in the project is by open invitation. Each year, interest has grown, so a decision was made to look for venues to present this rich and diverse work to the public. The opportunity to have the work featured in the Community Gallery at the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba is, in some ways, representative of the growing understanding of how important it is for inmates to reconcile with victims, the community at large, and/or themselves, as it gives them an opportunity to connect with the outside world at a level that is not wholly defined through the judiciary system.
Traditionally, the theme of the project is chosen in consultation with the project’s sponsor; previous exhibitions have explored concepts such as new beginnings, freedom, breaking the cycle, peace through spirituality, and hope. This year’s funder, the Manitoba and Northwestern Ontario Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada and the Multifaith Council, asked for work focusing on dignity.
The resulting exhibition of 32 drawings provides insight into how individuals maintain their self-worth while incarcerated. Several of the works depict images associated with faith and spirituality while others make reference to family. The importance of belonging is made evident throughout the works. Working with limited materials and time, the participants in this exhibition have given voice to the larger notions of what it means to be valued and respected. Their work reminds us of the importance of dignity, to our humanity and our self-worth; to realize that our mistakes do not define us and to move forward carrying ourselves in a good way.
The Art Gallery of South Western Manitoba hosted two Lunch and Learn panels to go with this exhibit:
August 11, Noon – 1 PM: Panel discussion “Art and a meaningful life”
August 25, Noon – 1PM: Panel discussion “Restorative Justice and the John Howard Society”