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Westminster At Lake Ridge Blog

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Westminster At Lake Ridge Blog

WLR Blog
Posted: Saturday, February 7, 2015

Art exhibit features the work of inmates

blog-art-prisonjpgA very special art installation is on display until the middle of March on Westminster at Lake Ridge’s artist wall.

The exhibit showcases works that range from dark and painful representations to colorful, exuberant celebrations of freedom. Styles range from representational to abstract, subjects from delicate blossoms to anguished portraits.

That might sound like exhibits you’ve seen before. But this one is different. The artists are inmates in the D.C. Department of Corrections Detention Center and the Central Treatment Facility. They participated in the Lorton Art Program, led by a remarkable woman named Mia Choumenkovitch.

Choumenkovitch founded the program in 1975 at the Lorton Prison, which closed in 2001. An artist who studied painting and drawing in Europe, she brought a background in African art to the classes she started teaching at the prison at a friend’s request. She believed in the power of art to liberate, heal, rehabilitate and humanize. Her first class had 12 inmates; since then, she’s taught thousands. A few have gone on to become recognized artists upon their release.

Through the program, Choumenkovitch demonstrated that training and education in the visual arts improves prisoners’ learning skills and self-esteem. Art work becomes an acceptable way for these men and women to express feelings that can’t otherwise be released. As a result, the Lorton Art Program became an integral part of the D.C. Department of Corrections. The nonprofit art program supplies the materials the inmates use to create their striking images in a range of media.

Choumenkovitch, who has received the Mayor’s Art Award for Best Art Educator and was named a Washingtonian of the Year, will present an opening talk and reception, Monday, February 9, at 3:00 pm.

More than 40 pieces are on display in the hallway, and you’ll be amazed at the quality of the work. The exhibit has been on display at our sister retirement communities, most recently at Ingleside at King Farm, where it created a lot of buzz and got rave reviews. Now it’s your turn.

For more information about the Lorton Art Program, visit www.lortonartprogram.org.



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