“When We Look with Love” – by Kate Jones, IUPUI student

(A visual school project based on IPWW prose)

I started the journey of this painting project with nothing but trepidation and curiosity, an eagerness to find within the words of others a glimpse into the grandness of life. I can tell you now I found that and so much more. These past few months have been spent reading and re-reading the works of the students of the Indiana Prison Writers Workshop. After nearly 30 hours of work, I present to you a visual representation of the heart you’ll find in their writings. I don’t think we spend as much time as we should believing in the power of our words, how they provide for us a way to remember and to commune with ourselves, our pasts. Or that, in general, we don’t listen enough; sometimes to ourselves, sometimes to each other.When we do, we see what is ugly but also what is beautiful. I know they exist together. These writings, these souls, are a testament to that.

I have learned so much from the writers of the IPWW. From Chris, from David, Andre, Thomas, Greg, and so many more. Thank you for sharing your hearts with us. I won’t pretend that this art piece is revolutionary or saying something someone else hasn’t already said. But that’s because this isn’t about me. It’s about us, it’s about the writers whose lives are presented, in some small way, in this art piece. It’s about the captivity of our minds and bodies, of social and physical death, of power and control. But really, it’s about the power of words and the power of creating, communing with our pasts and presents, our futures, our families. This is me, taking a small step in the process of engaging with the world around me, the people I exist in this world with, those who we might not think to not forget. We can’t afford to misconstrue our sight of one another. I want you to take it in, look at each image and each word. Go back to the writings they come from. What can we learn from the artifacts, the ruminations of thought and mind from those who have written the imagery you see before you? What can one learn, finding out for themselves, what these images might be if they were to look into their lives and their minds as the students of the IPWW have? What do these images, from the hearts and minds of those asked to focus themselves on a prompt of exploration and of healing, say to us? When they’re asked to give themselves over, in words, to the lives they have lived and the stories they own.

When they’re given space to go back, or stay in the now, and just create, just learn, just focus, just listen to what their souls have to say, to look back on or forward to. Words are powerful and so is the power of listening? Please look. Please listen.