BANDON - Time is a precious resource.

In 2002, a fellow Coos Art Museum board member suggested that Victoria Tierney consider curating a prison art show. At the time, the Bandon artist recalls feeling that her time was already spoken for; she wasn't motivated to start another volunteer project.

Her attitude shifted when her son, Blake Hodgetts, was sentenced.

"When Blake got arrested and incarcerated, my interest in prison art perked up," she said. "Then I knew at least one artist in prison."

"Time," the fourth exhibit of Oregon prison art that Tierney has curated in the past three years, opened last week. The show, which will travel the state throughout the year, remains at Bandon's Sage Gallery and the Bandon Public Library for the rest of the month.

Short on many other resources, prisoners do have an abundance of time, which some put toward making detailed art with limited supplies.

"There's such a range," Tierney said of the works in the exhibit. "From beautiful pictures of animals and nature to pretty out-there, raunchy, unfettered, fettered art."

A supporter of the arts in Bandon since 1977, Tierney previously worked as an illustrator for recording companies and publications such as New York magazine. Her colleagues and mentors have included social activists, writers and artists, including Jimmy Breslin, Gloria Steinem and Judy Chicago.

Sitting in her home studio, amid drawings and boxes of correspondence from inmate artists, Tierney described some of her experience, watching a close family member convicted and sentenced to prison.

"There's nothing you can do. You can write letters. You can go visit. What I could do was help some of the other guys in prison," she said.

Hodgetts, a musician, is grateful for her work with visual artists, Tierney said. "He's excited people are aware that there are talented human beings behind bars."

Her recent career as an advocate for prison art began with a 2008 exhibit at Southern Coos Hospital. Recalling the collection, Tierney said she had no idea Oregon prisons were home to such talented artists.

So she began developing a network of artists, volunteers and administrators within the state corrections system. That work has since resulted in exhibits at the Coos Art Museum and Old City Hall in Coquille.

Sharing in the cause is Paul Tice, program coordinator for Restorative Justice Through the Arts and a former inmate who works in drafting and 3D animation in Portland. According to Tice, he and Tierney share the same desire to help develop a positive future for incarcerated artists, who can use art to express tough emotions such as shame or regret and a desire to make amends.

"Some will develop art careers and some will just use it as a coping mechanism while they're in there," Tice said.

Chip Dombrowski contributed to this story.

 

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