Feb 01 - Mar 25, 2023 Douglas family art centre

Beyond the Bars

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John Kokokopenace, Respect and Love, Golf pencil and coloured pencil on paper, 22.8 x 30.5 cm

Beyond the Bars is an exhibition of artwork from inmates of the Kenora jail. 

Evidence suggests that for those in custody the making of art can improve wellbeing, family connections, motivation and resilience. It also provides opportunities for self-reflection and education, and can serve as a positive outlet to occupy one’s time, a means to elevate a sense of self-worth and a way to give purpose.

The Kenora District Jail (KDJ) houses, on average, 100 inmates from northern Ontario, the majority of whom are Indigenous. Most of the inmates are remanded, meaning they have been charged with an offence and ordered by the court back to custody while awaiting further action (trial, bail, or further detention). 

On an average day, an inmate of the KDJ spends the majority of their time in their cells or in a shared day space with limited access to activities by which they can express their thoughts and feelings. 

The institutional staff are often given unique, out-of-the-box forms of art by the inmates. These works have been created with limited resources which have been adapted for the purpose. These might include bedding, clothing, pencil crayons, books, footwear, canteens, etc.  They reflect the resourcefulness and creativity of the maker.

This exhibition was curated by The Muse in collaboration with the Recreation Staff of the Kenora District Jail.

Logo for The Muse - Lake of the Woods Museum & Douglas Family Art Centre

Did you know?

Both the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Northwest Company operated on the Lake of the Woods, and would often sabotage each others equipment at portage sites.