Catasauqua Press

Friday, May 24, 2019
CONTRIBUTED image courtesy ART FOR JUSTICE“Life in Suspension” (2011; oil on canvas; 36 in. x 24 in.), self-portrait by Charles Lawson receiving letter from his wife. Copyright - Charles Lawson, Courtesy of AfJ CONTRIBUTED image courtesy ART FOR JUSTICE“Life in Suspension” (2011; oil on canvas; 36 in. x 24 in.), self-portrait by Charles Lawson receiving letter from his wife. Copyright - Charles Lawson, Courtesy of AfJ

The art of incarceration at Banana Factory show

Friday, March 1, 2019 by Ed Courrier Special to The Press in Focus

In partnership with Art For Justice, The Moravian Church Eastern District, and Moravian Seminary, ArtsQuest presents “Hope in Hard Times: Prisoners’ Art for Social Justice,” March 1 - April 7, Banko Gallery, Banana Factory Arts Center, 25 W. Third St., Bethlehem.

“As a community-based arts center, one of our primary focuses is to showcase artists and exhibitions that prompt people to stop and think about issues that are impacting our society,” says ArtsQuest Sr. Director of Visual Arts Stacie Brennan.

“Art can tell stories about the human experience through the lens of an individual deep within the criminal justice system, or prison,” says Ann Marie Kirk, co-founder of Art For Justice, a Montgomery County nonprofit whose goal is to bring awareness about the criminal justice system through the art of prisoners.

“Viewing the art can open conversations about collective justice and individual worth in our times,” says Kirk.

“I understand that fairness for all people is made possible, or not possible, through the criminal justice system and other structures and institutions of society,” Kirk says.

“The criminal justice system, as acknowledged by many in our country, is broken. My hope is that those who behold this exhibit will be enriched personally by the experience and will also look for ways to engage constructively in their communities and the issues of our times,” says Kirk.

The artwork includes self-portraits by Charles Lawson, who co-founded Art For Justice, and is in prison serving a life sentence without parole. Another artist represented in the exhibit is Daniel Gwynn.

“Art for Justice seemed to be the perfect partner and a way to share the gift of art of the incarcerated with not only just the 14 Moravian churches in the Lehigh Valley, but the entire community,” says Calvary Moravian Church Pastor Janel Rice.

“We hope that this exhibit will begin or continue a conversation between our faith and our practices of love and justice in the lives of the incarcerated and in the movements for criminal justice reform,” Rice says.

Events schedule

6:45 p.m. March 1, talk, Ann Marie Kirk, First Friday, Banana Factory

7 p.m. March 19, Lecture, Tyrone Werts, Soros Fellow, Prosser Auditorium, Moravian College. Free. Register: moravianseminary.edu/academics/continuing-education

2 - 4 p.m. March 24, “Vigil for Hope in the Criminal Justice System,” talk, Chester Hollman, Jr., Banana Factory

Gallery hours: 8 a.m. - 9:30 p.m. Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. bananafactory.org; artforjustice.org; 610-332-1300.