Iowa City art exhibit highlights creativity while incarcerated

Five drawings by Shawn Lurkens are displayed as part of the “Art from the Inside Out” art show in Iowa City, but — like Lurkens’ dealings with the criminal justice system — none of them are finished.

All of the artists whose art is displayed in the show — which runs through Feb. 16 at Public Space One in Iowa City — are people who have been or are still incarcerated in jails or prisons in Iowa. Lurkens spent about six months in jail in Linn County and is now living in a residential correctional facility.

Lurkens started drawing as a way to pass the time while he was in jail. He said it served as a form of meditation for him.

“It was the only way I could really relax while I was in jail,” Lurkens said. “I could get lost in it for hours.”

His pieces that are displayed in the free art show use symmetry and nature to explore abstract concepts like “Eternal Love” and “Spiritual Wisdom.” The pieces were originally drawn in black and white while he was in jail. He started to add color after he was released to the halfway house. There still is color missing, because Lurkens plans to finish his artwork after he finishes his stay at the residential facility.

Read more at The Gazette. Written by Emily Andersen.