Love & Acceptance – What we are all chasing after I visited the 5th edition of the Yellow Ribbon Community Art Exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum featuring original artworks created by inmates of Changi Prison and Changi Women’s Prison. This year’s artworks focus on expressing “The Road to Acceptance” – gaining acceptance by society and more essentially – self-acceptance.What I truly liked about this annual art exhibition is the heart & soul the artists have put into the artworks, that you can feel the life experiences they have drawn from to reflect their desire to change for a better life, for a second chance with their family, with the society.
Imagine viewing life through the tiny window of this foreboding prison door Each year, about 9,000 ex-offenders complete their sentences and are released from the various prisons and drug rehabilitation centres in Singapore. It is disheartening that ex-offenders have to live with the stigma of being ex-offenders, and more often than not, viewed with bias and mistrust. People are slow to make friends, and employers hesitate to hire. Living life itself is already difficult enough, why make it even harder for others? Ex-offenders are just like you and me, and you wouldn’t even realise if they didn’t tell you their history. It’s just that they have made a mistake bigger than the usual, and have paid the price for it.
Prison officers who have put together the exhibition; don’t they look happy :) I could feel their excitement about the exhibition, and it was obvious from their big smiles that they enjoyed being part of this meaningful art initiative launched in 2007 as a way to encourage the community to accept ex-offenders back into society. It’s hard to associate high-brow art with crime, but I think it is an awesome platform for the offenders who are pretty expressive artists with powerful stories to tell.The highlight of this year’s exhibition is a collaborative outdoor artwork by Singapore artist Mojoko and the inmates, with the prison door as a canvas. The birds signify the inmates’ desire for freedom and reintegration back to society, to fly free. Sunrise is such a common daily sight that we take it for granted, but a luxury to these inmates hardly see the light of the day, being locked up in their bare, gloomy cells.
This year’s Yellow Ribbon Community Art Exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum’s chapel features 62 artworks of various mediums. I think it was apt that such an exhibition be held in a chapel. The artworks can be adopted, and funds collected will be used to support a variety of rehabilitation/reintegration programmes for the inmates as well as family support initiatives. Over the past 4 years about 250 artworks have been adopted, raising over S$146,000.
Enraptured Like birds seemingly enraptured by golden rays of sunlight breaking through storm clouds, the artist envisages himself and others like him being drawn to a better life away from the stormy waters of a life gone astray.
Awaken The frame corners form a maze which the artist is trying to walk out of after realising his foolish ways.
This seemingly normal artwork touched me the most. Why?
Upon closer look, the background was made up of sentences expressing the inmate’s earnest hopes and wishes to have a second chance in life, to be together with his family and friends again. I choked with emotion.
Fallen Angels committing to a plan of action to start over in life
I want to be as carefree as the wind
The blossoming of new life, new hope
Peace on earth!
Nurture. Nothing is more precious than familial love.
Peel away the layers and a rotten core, there will still be some goodness left in a person.
Just as the birds trust the tree to provide shelter, we should also prove ourselves worthy to those who have put their trust in us.
Breaking Dawn; A New Beginning
Just for Me. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could look at life through a crystal ball, so we won’t do things that we will regret later?
Fly free like a butterfly
Why be a chess piece when you can choose how to live your life to its fullest?
Lend me your ears (耳)! Hearing & listening, while having the same action – are essentially very different. When was the last time you have actively listened, and spent time to process your thoughts? That’s listening. When we make effort to listen, we understand people more, and look right into their honest hearts.
After much soul-searching, the artist sees himself emerging out of the shell of his former life and beginning a new one full of hope and opportunities. I thought it looks like a akido outfit.
Let The Potter’s hands help shape your life, to take a lump of lifeless clay and mould it into an object of beauty
Turn over a new leaf
Birds of a Feather reflects the artist’s desire to reintegrate back into society Reminds me of The Ugly Duckling before it realises it’s actually a beautiful swan
Nothing can touch one more than the simple joys of family togetherness and contentment in life
All you need is love to conquer the world. Give some heart 心 today. Adopt one of the 62 heart-felt artworks in support of the Yellow Ribbon Fund and its beneficiaries. Or just visit the exhibition to show your support for the inmates :)