Drawing in Jail

Hilarie M. Sheets writes an article about how people have coped with incarceration by drawing (“For the Incarcerated, Drawing Is a Lifeline,” NYTimes, 9-20-19).

What interests me on the margins of this interesting article is the innocent tell favoring depiction of comeliness that the writer discloses in singling out this drawing among the eight illustrated in the article as being “beautifully rendered.”

drawing azza abo

Azza Abo Rebieh’s “Nayfeh,” 2016, one of the portraits she did of fellow inmates while imprisoned in Syria. Credit Azza Abo Rebieh.

Here are four more of the drawings that illustrate Sheets’s article along with her descriptions of them.

Courbet’s chalk study is “delicate.”

drawing courbet

Gustave Courbet’s “Les Fédérés à la Conciergerie (Young Communards in Prison),” 1871. Courbet, who was jailed in 1871 after being accused of complicity in tearing down the Vendôme Column, captures a cell and cellmates in this chalk study. Credit The Metropolitan Museum of Art, via Art Resource, N.Y.

Ruth Asawa’s watercolor is “spirited.”

drawing ruth asawa

Ruth Asawa’s “Sumo Wrestlers,” 1943, a watercolor on paper she did while in an internment camp for Japanese-Americans. Credit Estate of Ruth Asawa, via David Zwirner.

Sheets does not characterize the portrait drawn by Jose Alvarez.

drawing jose alvarez

Mr. Alvarez’s “David H.,” 2012, a portrait he drew while detained for immigration violations. Credit Jose Alvarez and Gavlak Gallery.

Adolf Wölfli’s pencil rendering “maps the geography of his alternate imagined universe.”

drawing wolfli

Adolf Wölfli’s “The Kander Valley in the Bernese Oberland,” 1926, pencil and colored pencil on paper. Credit American Folk Art Museum.

(c) 2019 JMN

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
This entry was posted in Commentary and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.