Artist Statement

E-Mail   by STEVE KING AINSWORTH  Bio/Address

     During my twenty plus years of incarceration I have always been drawn to artistic endeavors in order to alleviate the boredom and stress of confinement. The therapeutic value of art and the act of creating something positive in a prison environment is immense.

Freedom in His Eye

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     I have always been interested in art. As a child I would sketch things about me. As a young adult I sought out art in prison, first in the county jail where I rendered cubist abstracts in charcoal and pastels. Entering the state prison system in 1968, I joined the handicraft program at Deuel Vocational Institution, Tracy, California. My work there consisted of realistic portrayals of wildlife and land/sea seascapes, primarily in oils. As my skill in the medium progressed, I was able to make enough sales of my artwork to support myself throughout this period of confinement.

29 January 1994

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     During my second period of incarceration I continued with my artwork and again, despite continuous transfers from prison to prison throughout the system, I enjoyed limited sales.

It's A Small World

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The Rest of My Story

     My third term of imprisonment brought me to death row at San Quentin. After a lawsuit against the conditions of confinement for condemned row inmates was settled by "consent decree," I joined the "Arts in Corrections" and the Handicraft programs. My artwork at this time consists of pencil, pen and ink, and acrylic painting portraying prison life, social issues (capital punishment), card designs, wildlife, still life, landscapes, seascapes, native Americans, western heritage -- all of which I have exhibited and sold with some degree of success. In 1989 I was honored for my prison art by the Prisoners Rights Union (a non-profit agency).
   
I also took up short story writing and, although this is a secondary form of expression to my artwork, I have enjoyed some success in this field.
   
Art and expression have become my passions. As I do not expect to leave prison alive, art has become my life -- and my escape.

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