An art exhibition has been unveiled to shine a light on the creativity and talent of prison inmates throughout Western Australia.
Art Therapist Anne Little and Tanya Kepic, an art teacher at Casuarina Prison, both agree that the Insider Art Spring exhibition is more than art.
They say art therapy offers a way for inmates to grow, develop self-worth and gain confidence that they desperately need for reintegration into society.
“Funding for arts is often overlooked within prisons, studies have shown that art is more beneficial for inmates rehabilitation than trade training when it comes to the rate of re-offending,” said Kepic.
“Most of the prisoners in our program are so badly damaged when you work with them, their self-esteem needs to be addressed before they re-enter the work force.”
“Art gives the prisoners a sense they have achieved something, their confidence is boosted, and their self-esteem is also improved… they often come in not trusting us, and as they work through the classes it opens up positive channels of communication,” she said.
Art therapist Dr Anne Little told The Bounce a prisoner’s art reveals a lot about their mental state and is a starting point for open and positive communication.
“I often see clients in art therapy who are really shy and reserved but as time goes on they open up to me and we can begin to work through their issues,” said Dr Little.
She said art therapy is particularly useful for people who have been through severe trauma and may struggle to verbally express their issues, like many of those in the prison system.
Dr Little hopes through exposure and ongoing studies, art therapy can gain extra funding from the government.
“It is important we work on rehabilitating inmates as a whole rather than just from a trade perspective to reduce their likelihood of reoffending,” said Kepic.