The Art of Survival: Juvenile Inmates' Works on Display on Santa Fe

Paintings and sculpture, leather and beadwork, pool and dragons are all part of the Chained Voices show this weekend.
Paintings and sculpture, leather and beadwork, pool and dragons are all part of the Chained Voices show this weekend.
Colorado Juvenile Defender Center

When you're young and behind bars, it can be difficult to keep hope alive.  And it can get even tougher after setbacks such as the recent Colorado Supreme Court decisions that did little to modify the sentences of 48 prisoners in the state prison system who are serving what amounts to life sentences for crimes committed when they were juveniles. 

But there's also great resiliency among young offenders, as well as a lot of raw energy that, with some encouragement, can be put to good use. That's one reason for the Chained Voices art show on display at the Art of Life Gallery this weekend. A collaborative effort by the Colorado Juvenile Defender Center and several Denver-based forensic social workers, the two-day event features drawings, paintings, poetry, sculpture and other creative work by incarcerated juveniles, as well as some of the juvie lifers, now serving forty-years-to-life in the adult prison system. 

One of numerous drawings by incarcerated artists in the Chained Voices show.
One of numerous drawings by incarcerated artists in the Chained Voices show.
Colorado Juvenile Defender Center

All of the work is for sale, with proceeds earmarked for specific needs of the individual artists, ranging from school books to art supplies. But the aim is also to "help inform the public about the plight of juveniles incarcerated in the criminal and juvenile justice systems," a subject that is more troubling than ever in the wake of Colorado's ham-fisted response to a federal ruling that mandatory life sentences for juveniles are unconstitutional.

A jewelry box assembled with a sturdy homemade glue, comprised of floor wax and rice water.
A jewelry box assembled with a sturdy homemade glue, comprised of floor wax and rice water.
Colorado Juvenile Defender Center

Come for the cause, come for the noshing, or come for the cool jewelry boxes. It all gets under way at Art of Life Gallery, 200 Santa Fe, with a reception that runs from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, July 17 (with light snacks, beer and wine), and again from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, July 18 (continental breakfast items). For more information, call 303-882-6620. 

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