NSO inmate art on display at Chrysler Museum "Beyond the Block" exhibit


Beyond the Block: An Art Exhibition by Inmates at the Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Hampton Roads Regional Jails

— Opening Reception Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 5:30 p.m. —


NORFOLK (Nov. 9, 2018) – The Chrysler Museum of Art along with the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office, Norfolk Sheriff’s Office and Hampton Roads Regional Jail would like to invite the media to participate in the opening reception for Beyond the Block: An Art Exhibition Created by Inmates at the Virginia Beach, Norfolk and Hampton Roads Regional Jails. The reception will take place at the Museum on Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 5:30 p.m. and will include representatives from all four organizations. In addition, the artists who have been released from jail have been invited to attend along with the friends and family members of those still incarcerated.

Beyond the Block opened on Nov. 6, 2018, and features 28 pieces of original artwork that respond to objects in the Chrysler Museum’s collection and reflect the inmates’ lives and experiences. It is a revival and expansion of the 2017 Beyond the Block exhibition that featured work exclusively by Virginia Beach Correctional Center inmates. The current exhibition will run through Jan. 13, 2019.

Beyond the Block is named for inmate housing units – called blocks – and the notion that the exhibition focuses on life outside of jail. It is a rare opportunity for people who are incarcerated to creatively express themselves beyond the confinement of their detention and for the general public to connect with people who are incarcerated.

Despite security concerns that prohibit the use of most art supplies, inmates create impressive works using flexible, jail-safe pens and other items readily available to them, such as candy, deodorant and magazines. For this exhibition, only art paper and Museum literature (for inspiration) were provided. 

Images from the exhibition are available via Dropbox here and should be credited to the Chrysler Museum of Art: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/qhm871gwpv3k3ek/AAAe3tz1qXNkh3J6AzXQD5uSa?dl=0.

From Chrysler Museum Community Engagement Manager Michael Berlucchi:

“Following the success of last year’s presentation of artwork created by inmates at the Virginia Beach Correctional Center, we wanted to offer this opportunity to other people who are incarcerated in Hampton Roads.  We are grateful for our continued partnership with the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office and proud to count the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office and Hampton Roads Regional Jail as new partners for this important exhibition.

Art can be therapeutic and transformative, both for the viewer and the person who created it. We hope this exhibition will inspire and empower inmates by showcasing their talent and ideas to the public. We also hope that, through this work, Museum audiences will have an opportunity to learn more about people who are incarcerated and the outstanding law enforcement professionals who supported this exhibition and serve our community.”

From Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle:

“After the tremendous success of last year’s exhibit, we are excited to see the show expanded this year to include the Norfolk and Hampton Roads Regional jails. Beyond the Block touched the lives of so many people. For the inmates, it gave them an opportunity to be seen for their talents and not just for their crimes. It helped them focus on something outside jail and helped them realize what they can accomplish if they use their creativity for good. For the public, it gave many people their first glimpse into life behind bars and gave them a greater understanding of our criminal justice system, both from the perspective of the inmates and the deputies who work to secure, care for and rehabilitate them so that they can eventually reenter society.

Beyond the Block is a wonderful community partnership and this year’s exhibit is truly captivating. We hope it continues to foster positive community conversations and understanding. Thank you to the Chrysler for again providing this opportunity and for caring so deeply about every part of our community and about art of all forms and origins and its ability to bring us all together.”

From the Norfolk Sheriff’s Office:

Participating in Beyond the Block helps our inmates share their personal stories in a public forum not typical of a jail. Doing so not only helps the public to better understand the programs we offer inside our jail, but also provides inmates with an opportunity to participate in a community activity and gives them something to look forward to upon release. All in the hopes of helping our inmates reintegrate into the community in a positive way.

“The Norfolk Sheriff’s Office is committed to caring for the health of our inmates. That includes mental health. We are proud to offer programs behind bars that empower our inmates to channel their emotions through creativity. Ninety-six percent of our inmates will return to our local communities. We want to give them the tools they need to succeed upon release,” Sheriff Joe Baron said.

From the Hampton Roads Regional Jail:

Thank you, Chrysler Museum, for allowing us this opportunity to be part of such a wonderful experience. Beyond the Block is a beautiful community partnership. Art is a way for clients to express themselves as well as give back to their communities. We hope to continue fostering positive and building strong community relationships.

Beyond the Block has provided a meaningful way for individuals incarcerated in our facility to express themselves in a positive and therapeutic way. Many of these individuals possess an immense amount of artistic talent as demonstrated by the artwork being shown. I thank the Chrysler Museum for allowing us to participate in this show and the opportunity to share a little part of the inmates’ world with the community,” said Superintendent David Hackworth.


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