Andrew Valencia is one of many talented, incarcerated artists who I have the pleasure of corresponding and working with. Andrew asked if I'd write a letter of recommendation on his behalf to send to the Parole Board and my immediate answer was: "Absolutely! Yes!”
While Andrew was recently transferred back to a California prison awaiting an upcoming parole board hearing, you can read here about his collaborative mural paintings, which inspired many at the La Palma Correctional Center in Eloy, AZ.
Andrew always puts his heart into art, as seen in his fabulously colorful and detailed pen drawing titled "The Takeover”. The Indian occupation of Alcatraz, from 1969 through 1971 was a favorite subject among inmate artists who participated in P.A.T.H.’s recent major and well received "Art Escape at Alcatraz”exhibit (which took place in the Band Practice Room at Alcatraz May-June). Valencia’s “The Takeover” depicts portraits of occupation leaders, as well as the noble visages of Native American chiefs from the past.
Andrew’s dream is to be an art teacher and to mentor “at risk” youth through the transformative power of art programs once he his finally released on parole. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be a successful instructor, mentor and motivator.
Time and time again, art proves to be a valuable redemptive and therapeutic vehicle for men and women in prison. Aside from being an outlet for self-expression and stress relief, it boosts self-esteem, helps connect inmates with family members and others from the outside world. And, last but not least, serves as a way for those behind bars to tangibly give back to the community.
Please consider making a donation to P.A.T.H. to help us continue to encourage incarcerated artists like Andrew.
Thank you and God bless!
Leslie Lakes, Director
Image Credit: "The Takeover" by Andrew Valencia