Beyond Bars Showcases Art Made Behind Connecticut Bars
By Shannon Darby
Live Wire Staff Writer
What is art? By definition art is the expression of human creativity and imagination. It can be expressed in a painting or drawing, collage or photograph, sculpture or poem. But all art describes an emotion and that is true of the pieces presented in Beyond Bars, an exhibit now being shown in Manchester Community College’s Hans Weiss Newspace Gallery in the lobby of AST building. The exhibit opened Feb. 6 and will continue through March 5.
Beyond Bars showcases the work of people who have been incarcerated in Connecticut collected by the Community Partners in Action Prison Arts Program. The non-profit organization was formed in 1875 to give dignity to those affected by the criminal justice system.
Jeffrey Greene, the program manager for Beyond Bars, said that a person can be who they truly are through the expression of art. The connection that the artwork creates is big for the inmates, Greene said, because a cell should not define them but rather it should remind these inmates of who they truly are.
The materials for the pieces featured in the exhibit are created with donated materials, items bought in the prison commissary, or simply right off the prison floor, like floor wax. The artwork showed great detail and much emotion. One piece is a figure with a gas mask that had the word hope written on the tank. Other pieces are more elaborate, like the Ramen noodle bag with more than 4,000 wrappers folded together. Another piece was created using a pen to stitch pieces together and another used cracker wrappers and orange juice boxes.
Susan Classen-Sullivan, who teaches at MCC and is the director of the gallery, said there were several reasons she wanted to showcase the artwork.
“Art can be made even in the most extreme situations and the material used to create the art is so different,” she said. “The artwork is created for very complex reasons and I feel the students here at MCC can benefit from this exhibit.”
For more information about the gallery and upcoming exhibits visit