Sussex Correctional Institution Art Program Partners with Millsboro Art League
The exhibition showcases 70 artworks by about 20 inmates participating in the program. Members of the art league say the art is very reasonably priced and the subject matter varies and includes landscapes, birds, and The Beatles, among others.
The SCI program, which began 17 years ago in the Georgetown prison, was created as a way to maintain some structure and stability during the inmate’s stay.
Keith Steck, a photographer who handles publicity for the Greater Millsboro Art League, said the relationship between the Millsboro Art League and SCI has been going on for about four years.
The Millsboro Art League showcases the art from the program that is run by Nancy Thomas, SCI program coordinator.
According to Steck, the artists teach each other and help one another out. The artwork ranges from comic pieces, origami pieces, drawn or painted art, colored pencil art, graphite, watercolors, acrylic, oil paint and more.
Thomas has been overseeing the group’s efforts for seven years.
“When we got together with the Millsboro Art League, they were very open to having our program show their work,” Thomas said.
Although Thomas has an art background, she does not teach the program. She sees this hour program once a week as therapeutic. Thomas saud the inmates should be able to paint what they want instead of telling them what to paint.
“I want it to be their work; the guys help each other. Some guys have professional experience, some have never done any art work,” Thomas said. “We have had people in the class that say they will continue with art.”
Steck and Thomas said there is no funding from the state and it is completely self-funded by the sale of art. The program is voluntary and there is a two-year first-come, first-serve waiting list due to classroom space.
According to Steck, some of these inmates will eventually be released and the hope is for some of them to get jobs in the arts.
Thomas said the program is extremely rewarding for these individuals.
“Guys get a lot of self-worth, self-esteem from being in the class,” Thomas said. “It makes them feel so good when they sell something, it makes them realize they can provide something they didn’t know they had.”
The exhibit is held on Fridays and Saturdays between the hours of 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Sundays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
For more details about the program, follow this link.