ANN ARBOR, Mich (FOX 2) - University of Michigan has put together a collection of more than 600 pieces of art made by prisoners.
The message? Healing can happen, even behind bars.
Inmates use whatever they can get their hands on to craft beautiful pieces.
Some high security areas don't allow a lot when it comes to supplies so pieces have been crafted using anything from cracker boxes, pens, pencils, paper, even bristles from a broom.
People like Chris Blalock, who was incarcerated for a violent crime for seven years, was just released in January.
"They gave me a chance man, they gave me a chance I didn't know I had," Blalock said.
A chance Chris got because he found art behind bars.
Thousands of men and women like Chris who are put away count the year, days and hours to get out.
"You kind of lose track of time while you're in, there's not much to look forward to," he said.
U of M started a program to feature the artwork of these prisoners, the exhibit is currently in its 24th year.
Many of the pieces featured reflects the pain, and agony of being put away. But the gallery also shows a brighter side although intense, most show how many prisoners have a longing for nature and normalcy.
They dream it then they draw it.
"For people in prison, there isn't a lot of ways for people to create meaning, their lives feel meaningless because they're considered throwaway people and they're considered people who don't have a lot of worth in our society, so making art is a way to create meaning and to feel a purpose," Janie Paul said with the school of Art and Design.
The art project started with 16 prisons and has grown to include up to 40. There are more than 670 pieces of art to be seen at the exhibit.
The artist will even be paid for their art earing as high as $500, others may get $15-$20.
Janie says most of the artwork is worth between $50 and $150, but that's priceless compared to the self-worth that comes back full force.
"It gives me a chance of release it gives me a chance to express how I feel, who I am as an individual," Blalock said.
Due to the lack of supplies prisoners get creative. Toilet paper and glue takes the place of the paper mache used to make the Titanic.
"People grow and change through the process of becoming an artist and carrying on actually art practice in prison. There's specific individuals who I know started off angry, got involved with drugs or gambling and once they start little by little making art all of that falls away," Paul said.
If you’d like to check out the exhibit it’s on the University of Michigan campus at the Duderstadt Gallery, 2281 Bonisteel Blvd. On U-M's North Campus March 20-April 3. Gallery hours are noon-6 p.m. Sunday-Monday and 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.