Third Signature Art Show Featuring Works from Currently and Formerly Incarcerated a Triumph

By Matthew Estes, Communications Director

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — On Tuesday, March 19, the Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles hosted the annual Changing the Course: Art by the Currently & Formerly Incarcerated exhibition at the Alabama Department of Archives and History in Montgomery. In its third year, media, stakeholders, legislators and other interested parties attended this signature event, which featured food, drinks, music and the works of the artists.

Several artists were in attendance, and an array of artforms were on display, such as paintings, sculptures, welding projects, mixed-media pieces, and other unique outlets. One piece, a quilt from Tuscaloosa Day Reporting Center participant Robert Clark, was featured on WSFA’s Alabama Live program.

The event boasts a large turnout each year with an audience eager to see art from Alabama’s justice-involved individuals. Attendees were consistently overwhelmed by the high quality of the art on display and mused about the creative inspirations and therapeutic applications going into each piece.

“Who can be frustrated when you’re painting?” said Day Reporting Center District Manager Stephanie Stewart. Attendees learned about the therapeutic effects of art, the Bureau’s rehabilitation programs, and the efforts of our event and community partners.

An updated video with event partner programs, interviews with artists, and a tour of some of the art is available here. A gallery of photos from the event is now online: https://paroles.alabama.gov/

Speakers at the exhibition included J.F. Ingram State Technical College President Annette Funderburk, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner John Hamm, Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Kimberly Boswell, ADAH Director Steve Murray, Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project Outreach Program Manager Rob Hitt, and Alabama Bureau of Pardons and Paroles Director Cam Ward.

Special recognition was given to Executive Assistant to the Director Jill Stallworth, who was the lead coordinator and point of contact for the event. She was primarily responsible for communicating with vendors and partners, as well as decorating and planning the event. 

The Bureau also thanks event partners – ADOC, Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project, ISTC, ADAH, ADMH, Troy University, and all participating artists for making this exhibition possible. Discussions and plans regarding next year’s Changing the Course event are already underway.

Changing the Course began in 2022 under the vision of Director Cam Ward and other state agency leaders, who made it their goal to find productive ways to reduce recidivism in Alabama. Art therapy programs and art classes are a proven way to both reduce recidivism and improve the lives of those suffering with mental illness. Since 2022, attendees at each annual event have enjoyed a high turnout and an enriching experience.