Commissary - 2016
The works in this series were made during the artists' multiple incarcerations for graffiti-related crimes. In jail and prison, artwork often takes the place of legal tender, and the artists would trade their artwork for commissary items and supplies that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to. While both portraiture and gaming materials are considered contraband (gambling is outlawed in most prisons, as are portraits, due to the fact that they are viewed as a form of currency that can be used to purchase prohibited items) they serve to foster important social connections in an environment that is known for being divisive and isolating. Because of this, they are highly sought after within prison and an important part of inmates taking back agency from a system designed to disempower them.
This series was shown in April 2017 in Los Angeles, California as part of the Legal Goods exhibition, the third installment in Think Tank Gallery's ongoing You Are Here series.