Parliament working with York County Prison for art show

Christopher Dornblaser
  • The Parliament is trying to start a gallery with inmate-created art.
  • Prison officials are interested in allowing the inmates to create the art with already-approved items.
  • The details of the gallery are still being worked out.

The Parliament Arts Organization and York County Prison are in talks to create an art show that would feature prisoner-created pieces of art.

Pictured is The Parliament's "Calm Chaos" exhibit from 2016. Photo courtesy Alex Dwyer.

Alex Dwyer, executive director for the Parliament, said officials from the organization met with the prison board Tuesday to discuss going forward with the art show, which could open by spring.

"They were incredibly receptive," she said of the board.

The art show: Dwyer said a committee member for the Parliament Arts Organization came up with the idea after seeing an exhibit in which the art was created by people who were prisoners.

Dwyer said the organization reached out to the prison board, and the members liked the idea.

“We’re going to be meeting with them and start sort of planning the thing," she said.

Parliament committee member Christina Kauffman said one of the things being discussed for the art show is what kind of materials the prisoners will be able to use.

She said the prison board was interested in allowing the prisoners to make art based on what they are already permitted to have in their cells, in what Kauffman called "creative re-use."

“Even if there are some very stringent restrictions, we’re hoping that they would be able to creatively re-purpose whatever materials they have access to," she said.

Kauffman said the art the inmates create could vary.

"The idea is to be really open-minded with this," she added.

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Kauffman said the idea proposed to the board was to split the money received for the art three ways, with one portion going to the artist's commissary account at the prison, another going to the county and a third portion going to the Parliament.

“The idea, at least in theory right now, is to split it between those three parties,” she said.

Kauffman said those details were still being discussed, and the plan could change.

County Commissioner Doug Hoke said some prison officials have seen inmates creatively reuse what they are permitted to have.

"A couple people said that they've seen some things that have been done and they're really impressed," he added.

Hoke said he thinks the art show will be good for all involved.

"I think it's a great opportunity to showcase what (the inmates) do," he said.

Dwyer said the prison board is going to appoint a board member to work with the Parliament on the art show. She said additional information on the art show will be posted on the Parliament's website when it becomes available.

— Reach Christopher Dornblaser at or on Twitter at @YDDornblaser.