The Crossroads prison Ministries Art exhibit, is open in the Parlor gallery and will be up through August
27! The artwork is by prison inmates who are involved in the Crossroads Prison Ministries Bible Study
program. This program offers the inmates a Bible lesson which they complete and send to a mentor. The
mentor reviews the lesson and writes a letter of encouragement back to the inmate. The inmates always
correspond with the same mentors. Often, the inmates will include doodles or artwork on the margins of
their Bible study work or even on the envelopes in which their lessons are sent to the mentors. Others have
developed their skills and created larger works.
Inmates spend much of their time in their cells or confined areas. They long to bring color, nature, or ideas from the outside world into their environment. So, many of them turn to art to express their desires and their creativity. Some inmates have access to art materials but others have to create their artwork with whatever materials they can find or make. Twist ties from bread wrappers have been used to create small sculpture pieces. Even Skittles soaked in water have been used for watercolor pieces.
Over the years this artwork has been collected and organized into a traveling exhibitions. Eliezer Yeong, art project coordinator for Crossroads, feels the exhibit provides the opportunity for the viewer to think and hopefully have conversations about these artists (the inmates) as capable, creative human beings. He states, “Their crime is something that needs to be dealt with, but it doesn’t need to define their entire lives.” Historical note: About twenty years ago LaGrave Church became involved with the Crossroads Ministries Bible Study program connecting LaGrave members with program inmates. Over the years the number of program mentors grew to 40 under the leadership of Rev. Mike Hoogeboom. Today, Bob Otte heads this program and there are more than 25 LaGrave members who continue to serve as mentors.