I photographed two women and their babies living at the prison today. One was the pregnant woman in an earlier blog. She has a beautiful, healthy, 13-day old son now. The other is a woman who has three children, the third being a smiling, active 18 month old toddler. Towards the end of the photo session, I glanced at the bulletin board in their room. The mom talked to me about her chosen items: a sketched composite portrait of her children, another drawing of a heart with a dagger, and a paper chain with numbers on it.
Bulletin boards in the prison rooms tell stories. Each mom has one that she is able to decorate as she wants, lending a personalized slant to an institutional setting. The composite portrait was sketched by an inmate who only discovered her artistic abilities while incarcerated. The second drawing shows a tearful mother behind bars with the calligraphed names of the children she left behind. And the paper chain numbers are the woman's countdown months until she is released. The mom told me that she made a gift for her nine year old daughter out of a formula can wrapped in construction paper and decorated in "girly fashion". Inside the can was a similar paper chain. She made this for her daughter so that every month, her daughter can cut off a circle of paper. This will let her know when her mother is coming home.
I am always impressed by the depth of creativity that I see when I go into the prison.