Christopher Dennison, who’s housed in ADX (or Supermax, the new home of El Chapo and the most secure prison in the country), and Kieron Webber, a resident of the United States Penitentiary (USP), display true humanity rising. They’re “inmates-turned-artists using their talents to serve their time in a productive, creative and value-based manner that has fostered real growth in each participant’s identity,” notes Buddy Dexter, director of the Fremont Center for the Arts. And the corrections industry also rose above previous limitations for this show, which marks the first time that a Supermax inmate was allowed to paint on canvas; Reddick, who calls Dennison a "remarkable artist," coordinated that, exchanging supplies every 48 hours as Dennison worked fifteen hours a day, seven days a week, to create the twelve pieces in this show.
Nearly two dozen prisoners show work in Humanity Rising. Eight worked together to turn a prison jumpsuit into a representation of their lives. But the focus is definitely on Dennison and Webber. While Dennison's works are very involved, verging on fantasy, Webber's are more pop, and include pieces painted on rocks.
“I hope this work has touched you in some positive way,” Dennison writes in his own statement. “I can say with sincerity that creating it has been one of the most enriching experiences in my life and has been a beacon of hope for me personally.”
But don’t dally: The show runs only through Saturday, July 27, at 505 Macon Avenue in Cañon City; find out more at fremontarts.org.
While you’re in Cañon City, stop by the CellHouse, at 602 Main Street. Dan Brown, who’s lived in the town since 1970, opened the store devoted to selling work by prisoners three years ago. But he’s closing up shop at the end of July — or earlier, if all the inventory is gone before then. “It’s a really cool store, but it’s just too difficult only having one supplier,” Brown explains. That supplier would be Colorado Correctional Industries, a division of the Colorado Department of Corrections; Brown did not renew his contract with CCI. “It was a hard choice for all of us involved,” he adds, “but the business model was no longer working to sustain a viable business.”
Check the CellHouse Facebook page for updates.