Exhibit featuring art from behind bars comes to Norfolk

Looking at the drawings and sculptures on display it's hard to believe they are made of deodorant, toothpaste, toilet paper and powdered soap, but that's all inmates have to work with.

NORFOLK - NORFOLK, Va. (WVEC) -- A new exhibit opened at the Chrysler Museum of Art, but none of the artists were able to attend. That’s because they are behind bars.

The exhibit is called Beyond the Block: An art exhibition created by inmates at the Virginia Beach Correctional Facility.

Looking at the drawings and sculptures on display it’s hard to believe they are made of deodorant, toothpaste, toilet paper and powdered soap, but that’s all inmates have to work with.

However, the Chrysler Museum of Art will tell you art isn’t about the materials, it’s about the passion and expression that goes into it.

“It is very nice to know that we are giving these inmates a rare opportunity to express themselves beyond the confinement of their detention,” said Michael Berlucchi, of the Chrysler Museum of Art.

The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office says they’ve been finding creative works of art in jail cells for years and thought it would be motivational to hold a contest, with the best ones being put on display at the museum.

“We are encouraging this art show because its constructive and positive and it moves those guys in the right direction and gives them a feeling of worth and of value, all that stuff is very important in a jail environment,” said Sheriff Ken Stolle.

More than 60 works were submitted, with 22 of them being part of the exhibit.

Many deputies who work at the jail came to the opening in uniform to show support.

“It really highlights the fact that members of the sheriff’s staff, the Virginia Sheriff’s Office, how much they actually care about the inmates that are in their custody,” said Berlucchi.

It was the LaCount Family that may have appreciated the exhibit the most. Inmate John LaCount stuck together a 3-D sculpture of his wife Diana and daughter Olivia using powdered milk as glue.

“The picture looks identical to the picture I sent to him, I’m very proud of him regardless where he’s at,” said wife Diana Taylor.

The family says the work is appropriately named Straight and Narrow.

“The idea was if he didn’t follow the straight and narrow path his family would fall apart and that’s what that art is trying to depict,” said mother Lynn Kline.

Taylor said this exhibit has given her husband a new found energy and hopes it will give him the strength to turn his life around.

“Just stoked, just happy, just crying, a grown man just crying at the fact that he made it,” said Taylor.

“And so happy that his daughter would be able to see it and see herself in the picture,” said Kline.

Beyond the Blocks will be on exhibit until November 26. Admission is free.

© 2017 WVEC-TV


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