New Exhibit Goes Behind Bars To Highlight Art By LGBTQ Prisoners

"On The Inside" highlights the talents of an oft-overlooked group.
"On The Inside" showcases work by LGBTQ artists who are currently incarcerated. 
"On The Inside" showcases work by LGBTQ artists who are currently incarcerated. 

From now until December, a New York exhibition will shine a much-needed light on an overlooked segment of the LGBTQ community. 

On The Inside,” which opened Nov. 5 at Manhattan’s Abrons Arts Center, showcases work by LGBTQ artists who are currently incarcerated. As such, the pieces on display are created with dull pencils, ballpoint pen ink tubes, letter-sized paper and other limited materials that prisoners are given access to. Other artists took to innovative methods, such as filling an asthma inhaler with Kool-Aid to produce an air-brushed painting, in creating their work. 

The show is a collaborative effort between Tatiana von Furstenberg and Black and Pink, an advocacy organization for LGBTQ inmates. An actress, writer and director, von Furstenberg ― whose mother is the famed designer, Diane ― first discovered Black and Pink’s newsletter four years ago. After being impressed by the artwork in the newsletter, she felt compelled to mount an exhibition after taking out an ad in the newsletter asking for submissions. 

“On The Inside” aims to give viewers a “human connection with our brothers and sisters behind bars,” as well as highlight inequality among LGBTQ people in America’s prisons, von Furstenberg told The Huffington Post.  

“The art in the show reflects so much talent and poetry and emotion,” she added. “My hope is when people attend the show and see the genuine expression of humanity and talent, that a human connection will be formed between those of us lucky enough to be on the outside to those of us who have been marginalized way before prison, who have lacked the privilege.” 

The statistics around prisoners who identify as LGBTQ are staggering. A 2014 report by the National Center for Transgender Equality found that prisoners who identified as “non-heterosexual” were three times more likely to report sexual abuse than those who did not. Other forms of mistreatment, including humiliation and degradation from both fellow prisoners and prison staff, were also common, according to the report

Take a look at a selection of pieces from “On The Inside” below.

You can read more about the exhibit here

  • Untitled
    Carron H.
  • Always Without A Net
    Larry S.
  • Untitled
    Armando M.
  • A Woman Half The Time
    Bruce B.
  • Cynosure
    Jim S.
  • Unknown
    Tiffany W.
  • Acceptance
    Stevie S.
  • Being Beautiful
    Tony B.
  • Prison Is Worse For Some
    Tony B.
  • Untitled
    Jerry U.
  • A Self Portrait
    Tony B.