Prison program work at The Art Loft

Sep 29, 2017
Work by members of Maine State Prison’s weekly art classes will be displayed in October at The Art Loft in Rockland.

Rockland — For the Oct. 6 First Friday Art Walk, The Art Loft will display “From Behind the Wall: Expressions from Prison.” The reception and talk will run from 5 to 8 p.m. at the nonprofit community arts center at 385 Main Street, Suite 9 (Thorndike Building).

It is the Art Loft’s mission that everyone gets to experience the amazing power of art, including the less advantaged, outlining sectors of the community. To this end, Kathryn Matlack spearheaded art classes at the Maine State Prison. Matlack found that there was an art program at the prison solely founded by inmates; no outside instruction was available. The inmates were eager to learn and progress in their artistic abilities.

It was decided that The Art Loft would hire artist Dan Daly to teach at the prison in Warren once a week. He brought along his witty storytelling, an endless supply of art books and magazines to learn from, as well as examples of his own art. Continuing lessons are held weekly, focusing on process and art theory.

What is it like to be incarcerated? The Prison Fellowship website states that understanding a prisoner's thinking and emotional state can help them be ministered to more effectively. The five stages of incarceration — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance — re derived from the traditional stages of grief outlined by American Swiss psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.

These stages are not necessarily linear, since people can flow in and out of them. But often a prisoner's behavior can be explained by where they are within these stages. Like everyone, prisoners are in process, and are responding to what is happening in their lives. This show is about those feelings, a personal perspective from each individual.

The Art Loft will display works of art from the inmates. Also on display will also be a life-size carving of an eagle. The eagle was made in the Industries Woodshop, an impressive 110-person operation at the Maine State Prison. “Industries" has also made all the frames for the paintings in this show. Along with the paintings, sketchbooks will be displayed, as well, offering written heartfelt statements from each inmate regarding their lives and their art.

Warden Randal Liberty will be at The Art Loft during the First Friday opening. He will give a talk about the art program at the prison and be on hand to answer questions. Daly will be available to talk with, as well.

The show also be seen during class times and by appointment throughout October. For more information, visit or call 200-7915.

Courier Publications’ A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at (207) 594-4401, ext. 115; or

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