Activist Artist Brings Awareness To Solitary Confinement

House of Puff, a luxury smoking accessories line for women, and activist Chris Wilson have launched an art exhibition at a New York City Cannabis Shop this summer to bring awareness to those affected by the prison industrial complex.

According to the Gothamist, in 1996 Wilson was sentenced to life in prison for murder at the age of 17. 

Wilson told the Gothamist, “Two people came after me one night, threatened me and said they had been following me, watching my family. And then one guy tried to jump on me, and I ended up firing my weapon, and I took a person’s life.”

During his sentence, on multiple occasions he spent long stretches in solitary confinement, sometimes up to 23 hours a day in a room no bigger than a parking spot.

The exhibit features a collection of Wilson’s artworks titled “Positive Delusions” which was inspired by the grueling years he spent in solitary confinement, YahooNews reported.

Wilson was released from prison after serving 16 years behind bars and in 2015, three years after his release he began creating art.

While speaking with YahooNews, the Washington D.C. native said that his collaboration with the House of Puff to display and sell his artwork is “really meaningful.”

“House of Puff is not afraid of the hard conversations, and they put their money where their mouth is by leveraging their platform to create change” he said. “This is an opportunity for all of us to amplify something that should be front and center in the cannabis industry: that incarcerated people, especially those with drug charges, paid the biggest price on the path to legalization, and they deserve to reap the benefits.”

Wilson hopes his artwork will bring awareness to the issues many people face within the criminal justice system. “I want people to be outraged by the practice of solitary confinement in America,” he said.

“We want to end solitary confinement in the United States. I hope ‘Positive Delusions’ and the story behind it inspires viewers to help us in that fight,” he said.

According to the Gothamist, some of the proceeds from the exhibition will go to Solitary Watch, a nonprofit organization that does original reporting on the use and conditions of solitary confinement within U.S. prisons. 

The exhibition includes 10 large-scale paintings and will be on display at Etain Health Medical Cannabis Dispensary through June 10.

TOPICS:  solitary confinement

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