The Art of Survival: A Prison for Women Memorial Collective Exhibition

More information on the Exhibition found here on the Kingston Pumphouse Museum website.

An art exhibition of prisoner artworks will be on display at the Pumphouse Museum from July 4 – September 2, 2023 in partnership with the P4W memorial collective and the City of Kingston.

“The Art of Survival” brings together more than 30 local, national, and international artists and collectives who have produced artwork inside institutions for women or while on parole. This exhibition is part of P4WMC’s long-term project to remember and honour people who lived and died inside women’s prisons across Canada.

The exhibition’s title draws from a 1992 essay by artist, community organizer, and former P4W prisoner Gayle K. Horii, The Art In/of Survival;

“Women in prison waste nothing. Every bead, every shred of fabric and leather, every piece of paper and every pen is used or passed on... When women leave prison, they take with them the love and respect for their sisters in struggle. They leave behind their tools for survival. The woman left will be reminded that one day it will be her turn to leave and when it comes, she will also pass these valuable tools on.”

In the 30 years since Horii’s declaration, it has become increasingly difficult for prisoners to create Art due to increasing restrictions by prison administration. Ongoing barriers include access to materials and cuts to arts programs that benefit the physical and psychological conditions of prisoners.

The Artworks displayed here explore the themes of love, community, spirituality, sisterhood, healing, survival, resistance, and resilience. The invited artists depict life in and beyond prison walls. In doing so, they counter the negative stereotypes of people caught in the prison system. P4WMC and its allies invite viewers to imagine a world that does not rely on the violence of prisons for community safety and accountability.

The Art of Survival is curated by the Prison for Women Memorial Collective (P4WMC) and Sheena Hoszko in collaboration with Heritage Services and the PumpHouse.