Prison and art seem to be two different entities. But when you put them together, you see magic! (Art) contributes towards preventing offenders from entering into a second societal prison of suspicion, mistrust and discrimination. It gives them the space and confidence to think beyond the constraints of their circumstances.
Recently,a day-long Art Camp of inmate-artists and released artists of correctional homes of West Bengal along with mainstream artists took place at Mohar Kunja, Kolkata. Titled Let us Hold Hands the Art Festival is being organized by the Directorate of Correctional Services, West Bengal, Shuru Kolkata, Rotary Club of Calcutta Millennium and a Kolkata-based non-governmental organization (NGO), Flight to Harmony Foundation.
“We have been able to showcase artworks from different correctional homes from time to time. The objective is to make people aware of the ability of these people behind bars as well as the kind of appreciation they receive from visitors boost their morale too,” said Chitta Dey, Founder of Flight to Harmony Foundation.
“Exhibitions are important as on the one hand, works of these inmate-artists can be evaluated and on the other it helps in the process of their integration into the mainstream,” Chitta Dey said. “Art camps in Kolkata and beyond have successfully rehabilitated numerous inmates. Exhibitions like this act as a bridge to connect these artists to the society and will lead to their rehabilitation,” Dey added. Chitta Dey has also started AAYNA – a vocational center in Purulia that can accommodate 6 inmates for a course in Rock Carving and Stone Carving at Pakhipahar as part of Rehabilitation programme.
The awards for the artists were given out by Shri Abani Mohan Joardar, Hon’ble Minister-in-Charge, Department of Correctional Administration. Other eminent personalities who participated in the program were Shri A K Gupta, DG & IG of Correctional Services, Shri Debashis Kumar, Member, MIC, KMC and singer-musicians, Lopamutra Mitra, Arindam Ganguly, Dr Jonaki Mukherjee, and Debajyoti Mishra.