By Lt. Ricardo Jauregui, AA/PIO
Sierra Conservation Center 

Artworks by inmates at Sierra Conservation Center (SCC) will be on display at Columbia College in Sonora through March 28.

The show, “Artistic Realms,” features 100 acrylic paintings on display and for sale in the college’s Manzanita Building.

The artworks were created by students in the William James Association’s Prison Arts Project class taught at SCC. The course is made possible by a contract through California Arts in Corrections, a partnership between CDCR and the California Arts Council.

Arts in Corrections programs are evidence-based courses that reduce recidivism through structured instruction of visual, performing and literary arts.

The free exhibit is available for public viewing from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. Columbia College is located at 11600 Columbia College Drive in Sonora.

Bids on artworks will be taken via silent auction through 4 p.m. on March 27. Proceeds from the sales of the artwork will go to two non-profit organizations — Columbia College Foundation Art Scholarship and Columbia College Student Food Bank.

Paintings include landscapes, birds, animals, underwater fish, planets and abstract works. Many of the wooden picture frames that adorn the paintings were made by the vocational carpentry program at SCC, supervised by instructor Randy Bland.

Stacy Hay, a retired correctional officer and local artist, leads the arts course. Hay said the classes are a valuable rehabilitative program.

“The process of creativity opens the mind and the human spirit. It teaches self-discipline and problem solving,” Hay said. “These arts programs are proven to decrease institutional tensions, and lower recidivism rates. Most of these students are getting out of prison and could be your neighbors. This art exhibition gives them a way to give back to our local community.”