PCAP- Prison Creative Arts Project

Valentina Stackl


PCAP is an organization at UM that does work with both adult and juvenile prisoners. It’s also a program through which Michigan prisoners can show and sell their artwork at an annual exhibition. The prices are very reasonable and the artwork tends to be impressive. This is their mission statement: “The Prison Creative Arts Project’s mission is to collaborate with incarcerated adults, incarcerated youth, urban youth and the formerly incarcerated to strengthen our community through creative expression.” Students at UM can participate in the Project and work with prisoners and their artwork. 

The annual exhibit is supposed to break down stereotypes and “demystifies prisoners”. This year’s exhibition really moved me. So many of the paintings depicted incarcerations as a direct result of the failing economy in Michigan. Here are some examples:

This image shows people protesting as jobs are shipped abroad like cargo. 

This one’s pretty scary. Lady Liberty and some sort of Vortex of impending doom. On the scale, the banks are winning and the little guy is about to fall off the only solid ground in sight. 

This one is quite specific to the issues Michigan is facing. It is referring to Michigan auto workers having to find work out of state. It’s also referring to Jennifer Granholm, Michigan’s governor and the terrible debt Michigan is in, losing your house, and your job. 

I liked this one a lot. It shows a baby born in the United States as a prisoner. It shows that some children are born into communities were options are so limited that prison is the most likely outcome. 

This picture looks like it could be Detroit. A city that’s falling apart, with prostitutes and drug addicts walking the streets. The frame looks like it could be the perspective from inside a cop car. I’m not sure what to make of that- maybe the fact that imprisoning thousands of people isn’t actually getting at the root of the problems our country is facing?

Anyway- I just wanted to share yet another great thing you can do at UM. There are a ton of activists on campus doing things around the clock. Prisoner’s rights and the decrepit state of many US cities are important causes that you can easily participate in on campus.

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