TACOMA, Wash — An ambitious and unprecedented prison event culminating in Tacoma and this program aims to do much more than rehabilitate inmates.
Unguarded is an auction of art created by inmates and auctioned off to the public with proceeds benefiting hurricane ravages areas including Puerto Rico and Texas.
Prison is an extremely hard place. It’s hard physically, it’s hard emotionally and yet that doesn’t mean the inmates themselves are always hardened.
So when hurricanes ravaged the U.S. last summer, men at Cedar Creek Corrections Center were so moved to help they did something no one in Washington’s prison system had ever done. Those inmates made art and they convinced prison staff to let them sell that art to help others.
“It’s kinda therapeutic it really makes me feel good when I’m done,” says Leeshawn Redic.
Redic is among the inmates at Cedar Creek who are sharing their life struggles through art.
“Up until now I didn’t create something positive with my hands,” says Carmel Gardipee. “I was always doing something unproductive//when I do this it makes me feel like I have something to be proud of.”
Now Gardipee wants to make up for mistakes made by giving back. He says he is hoping his work will help those still in need.
In talking about where the money from the auction will go, he says he hopes it might buy a crib for a child who saw their bed destroyed by storms.
“That would mean more than a dollar amount,” says Gardipee.
Seven prisons from across Washington’s prison system came together for the first of it’s kind public auction.
“The piece that I did it was about togetherness in America and that’s helping each other,” says inmate Stacy Dockins. “And the thought I had in it if I put the whole gumbo into one piece it would be coming together.”
This is the first time inmates in Washington have asked and been allowed to raise money for a national level project.
But Dockins says he believes this effort helps more than just those in need outside the prison walls. He says he believes inside the prisons the art and the effort are breaking down racial and cultural barriers.
“Its different religions,” he says of his painted canvas work depicting a multiracial face wrapped in an American flag. “I tied the towel around the head, I showed the tears, I wanted to see the pain in the picture.”
The auction was planned Friday night at the Mohler Campus of Bates Technical College in Tacoma. A reception was set to begin at 5:30pm and the auction from 6:00-8:30pm.
Travis Mayfield is an anchor and host on Q13 News This Morning. Follow Travis on Twitter and Instagram @TravisMayfield