Joyous Freedom by Alejandro R., CA
Alejandro, a Crossroads student and artist in California, is one of the many students who have experienced transformation through participating in the Crossroads Prison Art Project. Being a Crossroads student and artist has pointed him toward a peace beyond understanding that only comes from God. Alejandro has been in prison for the past twenty-two years, but he accepts his situation, thanks to his studies and his artistic creations.
In describing his creative process, Alejandro said, “When I first saw this photograph [the inspiration for one of his paintings], I thought of how the Lord set me free from these spiritual chains of bondage I was a prisoner to. Like this bird, there is nothing more joyful in life that can compare to receiving God’s grace, mercies, peace, and truth.”
The Prison Art Project provides an outlet for those in prison to share artwork and poems that demonstrate the powerful ways God has changed their hearts. Inspired to give back in service of His Kingdom, students offer their work to Crossroads as gifts that help us share the ministry with others and gain support. We publish dozens of pieces each year in our arts journal, Threads, and several other ministry publications.
In addition to mailing Threads to supporters, we send it to every student whose facility allows it, and many students—both participants in the Prison Art Project and non-participants—send us responses of gratitude. They tell us that the opportunity to see art made by other people behind bars creates a sense of community and profound inspiration.
The Prison Art Project provides a platform for students like Alejandro to share their stories. Prison walls are not only physical barriers to the outside world but also blockades to relationships and communication. Inside prison, it can be difficult to have a voice, to be understood, or to make connections with others. Art that is created and shared with the outside world can convey experiences in prison that are difficult to express in words.
When student artists get an opportunity to create, their imaginations run free from their hellish environments. Artwork transports students to a brighter reality. Their artwork has the power to invoke fond memories, and it can even be an avenue for worship.
“I knew nothing about painting but was starving for color and scenery beyond the walls of this place,” student artist Mike shared. “I began to study and practice painting, one stroke at a time. After three years of diligent Bible studies and countless hours and tubes of paint, I will soon be able to go home with the skills I need to enjoy my newfound loves, which were in me the whole time: God and painting. Bible and brush.”
The Prison Art Project is vital to our students because it empowers them to share stories of God’s grace, mercies, peace, and truth. It reaches and inspires thousands of people. “Threads is an excellent ‘seed’ tool in prison,” said Crossroads student Jack. “Many of the lost in here pass the time learning to draw. They love looking at Threads to gain ideas and are then inspired to ‘better things.’”
The Prison Art Project is concrete evidence of how God is using Crossroads to reach the hearts of men and women in prison. We are thankful for the creative gifts, talents, and stories that our student artists so generously share. What would it look like for you to give in a similar way? You can give financially to the mission of Crossroads by donating online at cpministries.org/donate. Or consider walking alongside someone in prison as a Crossroads mentor. Learn more at cpministries.org/mentor.