2020 and Beyond


In the winter of 2019, a Global airborne virus called Covid-19 struck the world. Because it was novel and lethal, Global safety measures meant large gatherings were banned. These safety measures along with there being no cure for the virus, has hurt the travel industry, sports and entertainment industry, and the Arts. No theatrical performances, nor exhibitions at galleries nor museums. Despite these challenges, the artist will be exhibiting work in 2020, and we will keep this site updated.

For more information read:

How Covid Impacts Prison Art Exhibits | darealprisonart


CCAD 2020 Fashion Show

"Mercy" fashion line by Makenzie Stilies
"Mercy" fashion line by Makenzie Stilies

The spring of 2020 would have seen for the first time in the global history of fashion shows, models walking down the catwalk in clothing embedded with images from prison art. However, Covid-19 restrictions prevented this from becoming a reality.

Columbus College of Art and Design 4th year undergrad student Makenzie Stiles had her final year to create a fashion line. It was a moment for self-expression, but she wasn't thinking about herself. She was thinking of those who had no voice. She would use her opportunity for the public to hear the voice of prisoners. Prisoners who spoke how she spoke, visually. Her Opus to the world of fashion design is called Mercy. A boutique set of fashion designs created with black ink and images of prison art; tattooed into high quality white leather. The designer had no point person to turn to, as the entire process and project was so novel, even to the 141-year-old private academic institution. In 2019 she teamed up with C-Note as her principle artist. He provided her access to his artwork, as well as the artwork of other prisons.

For more information read:

Fashion's Corona Casualties. Photographed by Gabor Jurina, courtesy... | by Hoodoverhollywood | Medium


Beauty Behind Bars/No More Shame 2020

Beauty Behind Bars/No More Shame was a prison art exhibition scheduled for August 16, 2020, at the Yerba Buena Center For The Arts. The event was cancelled due to Covid-19 health restrictions. The event curator was Ericka Scott, the owner and founder of Honey Art Studio. This event was a labor of love with her co-curator, her husband Pride. Pride is a California State prisoner and introduced his wife to prison art. They have been collaborating in this space for over half-a-decade.

"We were hoping to have a live showing of the work at the SF Yerba Buena for Arts on Sunday August 16, 2020," says Ericka Scott. "The goal was to print the art work and hang them on the inside of the glass windows so people can see the pieces from the outside (due to COVID). The idea was still being discussed. If it would have been set up, individuals would have been encouraged to practice social distancing while viewing.We are creating a virtual gallery of the work which will be displayed on the YBCA website. Their Marketing team is fully engaged to help get visibility for the project."

One work that was selected and published on the Honey Art Studio website is C-Note's work Strange Fruit. Strange Fruit was created to raise awareness of the suicide rate at the California Institution for Women (C.I.W.). During an 18-month period in 2014-15, the suicide rate at C.I.W. was eight times the national average for women prisoners, and five times the rate for the entire California prison system.

Birds, Bees, Butterflies and Flowers 2020

Birds, Bees, Butterflies and Flower was an exhibition of prison art for the fall of 2020. The exhibition had been curated by Leslie Lakes, the director of Prison Art Touching Hearts, P.A.T.H.. Proceeds from the exhibition was designated for the St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital.

C-Note's donated work
C-Note's donated work

"I had worked very hard; 1 to 1-1/2 years ago approaching and communicating with various art gallery venues to get exhibits of inmate artwork on their 2020 calendars, and due to Covid, ALL THREE MAJOR INMATE ART EXHIBITS WERE CANCELLED FOR THIS YEAR. Terribly frustrating and disappointing. Cannot recoup that time," says Lakes. "Now that the exhibit will not take place as scheduled, I am starting to list the individual pieces for sale on Ebay. Ebay has a special feature where one can select a charitable non profit foundation. Sale of the art will go directly to the ST. JUDE CHILDREN'S RESEARCH HOSPITAL as was originally planned."

BACK TO LIFE: 5th International Art Competition 2020

In January of 2021 an international jury of art experts selected the winners of Art and Prison’s 5th International Art Competition. The theme of the competition is Back to Life.

489 entries were received from across the globe by men, women, or juveniles, who at the time of submitting their artwork were in prison, in remand pending deportation, under court-ordered supervision in hospitals, or on work release.

These works are part of a unique collection of Prison Art that will be shown throughout Europe in a travelling exhibition. The first exhibition will be held on the 23rd of June 2021 – 12th of September 2021, National Museum of Liechtenstein, Vaduz.

The traveling exhibition, accompanying publications and targeted publicity campaign are intended to make the public aware of the realities of life in prison.

Other purposes are to encourage prisoners to engage in the creation of art and give the public the opportunities to appreciate this art. Encourage prisoners to reflect on their lives through art and to use the freedom of art to create while living in conditions in which their freedom is otherwise non-existent.

Overcome the exclusion of prisoners through the creativity of art and bring people „inside“ and „outside“ in contact with one another, if possible in a personal interaction. Convey positive impulses for personal development; promote personal interaction with other people that can contribute to security, re-socialization and reintegration into society.

The announcement of the winners were conveyed in multiple languages, and the ten best works received cash prizes. If it's possible, each participant will receive a certificate of participation.

This year's announced First place winner came with a bit of a controversy, as it was revealed to be from a template that was used for the film The Shawshank Redemption (1994). As a result, the award-winning works each moved up one place in the ranking.

C-Note's piece Return to Vitality was juried in at number ninety-six (96). Many of his works created specifically for a themed exhibition are named after the theme. This work is no different, but he decided to switch it up. Return to Vitality is a word play on Back to Life.

Return to Vitality is 8 ½ in. x 11 ½ in. (21.5 cm. x 26.5 cm) work of wax on the back of a legal tablet (cardboard). It depicts an African-American male outside of a prison with nothing on but the cutoff shorts worn by the field slave of old. Near him on the ground are his effects, as the searchlight from a prison guard tower searches the inside of the prison grounds. While he appears to be running, his fists are closed and his palms are facing up. Try it for yourself. This it's not how the body would position itself for running, but for dancing. Take into account his facial muscles, and we are not witnessing the breathing upheaval of running scared, but the movements of a man in Jazz.

To learn more about Art and Prison’s 5th International Art Competition themed Back to Life visit the website below:

Kunst aus dem Gefängnis - ART AND PRISON


Excerpt from Free Virtual Art Exhibition (1-Artist; 1-Subject; 21-Works)


Free Virtual Art Exhibition (1-Artist; 1-Subject; 21-Works) 2021

Hurricane Ida (2021)

In the waning days of August 2021, Category 4 Hurricane Ida was on a direct collusion course with Louisiana. Winds gusted at 140mph with thousands evacuating New Orleans and other communities in Ida's projected path. As it had been with the Category 5 Hurricane Dorian, C-Note's 2017 Hurricane Harvey inspired public announcement art During the Flood was used by grassroots organizations to warn against the human suffering that would be reckoned on prisoners who were not sentenced to death, if they too we not evacuated. 

Art For Redemption Interactive Mural 2021

On August 5th, 2021, Art For Redemption unveiled an interactive mural in the River North Art District (RiNO) in Denver, Colorado, United States. Art for Redemption is a network of individuals seeking to connect friends, families, Prison Administrators, and other interested parties to create pathways of success from the "inside out" through art production.

Founded by ex-prisoner Buck Adams who believes there is a way to celebrate the artistic talent "inside" and to encourage financial accountability from the art producing inmates through the potential sale of their works towards paying restitution, child support, commissary, phone calls, J-Pay fees (institutional email), and even potentially be savings to support reintegration once released.

The mural included augmented-reality messages about mass incarceration accessible through an app. The mural is expected to stay up for at least six months. The unveiling also served as a fundraiser for a coffee-table book of inmate art, the launch of an NFT marketplace, and the expansion of the group's print-on-demand marketplace.

Paula Picassa (2021) Ink on paper was created as a donation to Art for Redemption. It is a rendition of makeup artist Kabuki's fashion editorial in the September 2015 issue of Harper's Bazaar. Kabuki's editorial is called "Picasso's women." C-Note's drawing is based on Kabuki's selection of Picasso's 1938 work Bust of a woman.

Art on Abolition (2021)

Art on Abolition was an online art exhibition, Sept 1 - Dec 31 2021. It was curated by Freedom and Captivity. Freedom and Captivity is a United States grassroots organization based in the State of Marine. The exhibition had three artistic goals, "What does abolition look like, sound like, feel like?" Art on Abolition included works responding to this prompt juried from a national open call. It featured over 70-works from over 40-artists. The exhibition was organized thematically:

History and New Futures
Protest and Revolution
Finding Voice, Power, Joy

History and New Futures
History lives in the present, visibly and invisibly, memorialized in public and disappeared into private memories. Some of the works in this theme honor events, people, and structures of feeling that hover at the underside of memory and breathe life into possibilities for future transformations. Other works take the future as the present, offering a distanced reflection on current carceral practices.

Protest and Revolution
The contemporary abolitionist movement is part of a long struggle for freedom and liberation from carceral systems created to support white supremacy, colonialism, and inequality. Art that documents and celebrates these struggles can motivate and clarify, embolden and enrage, and offer inspiration for revolutionary change.

Finding Voice, Power, Joy
Carcerality silences, disappears, and destroys. Abolition validates, repairs, and liberates. These works show the power of art for finding voice - to challenge oppression, express joy, build community and solidarity, and claim shared humanity.

What does liberation look like, sound like, move like, feel like? Art offers unique access to liberation's sensoria, exhibited here in fantasy visions and soundwaves, movement and lyricism. The radical imagination and expression of freedom is liberatory.

C-Note had two works in the exhibition, and both were in the Liberation theme. One was the Paintoem The Prism of Abolitionism, while the other was the 10:00 movie short Abolish It. Abolish It stars C-Note and Min King X Aka Pyeface, with the soundtrack being produced by Min King X Aka Pyeface and featuring his sister Abrique Brown on vocals. The movie chronicles how C-Note and King first meet in prison, and how Art has played a role in their shared journey. While C-Note is still locked up, King is free, and is pursuing their dream of going from the Kage to the Stage.

International Prisoner's Family Conference 2021

October 20th - 23rd 2021, was the 13th Annual International Prisoner's Family Conference. This year's conference was virtual. Topics included civil rights don't end at the prison gates, prison reentry, children of incarcerated parents, prison wives, and other topics. It also included a Facebook art auction of Prison art. C-Note donated a work to the conference that was specifically created for the event.

Man in the Mirror, 2021, 9 in. x 12 in., Acrylic on canvas, Donald "C-Note" Hooker, features a prisoner looking at himself with a handheld mirror. What the mirror reflects back, it's not his image, but an image of him, his wife and child.

Man in the Mirror (Highlighted)
Man in the Mirror (Highlighted)

"Look Up!" 2021

"Look Up!" Oct 17 - Nov 16 2021 is one of four Billboard art installation exhibitions in the Technology Capital of the world, Silicon Valley, California, United States.

This inaugural exhibition featured C-Note's 2017, Incarceration Nation. It was inspired by the Millions for Prisoners Human Rights March in August of 2017, and to serve as a Public Service Announcement for the March.

Incarceration Nation also includes red stick pins that represent the locations from a list of names on the Work who suffered State-sanctioned deaths. The names include: Travon Martin in Florida; Michael Brown in Missouri; Sandra Bland in Texas; Philando Castile in Minnesota; Freddie Gray in Maryland; Ezell Ford, Wakiesha Wilson, Central California Women's Facility (CCWF) & Oscars Grant in California; and Charleen Lyles in Washington State.

To some, the addition of the stick pins do not make any sense, but to C-Note, they are two sides to the same coin, the end result of having come into contact with law enforcement.

The images in these photos are of Silicon Valley's inaugural "Look Up!" art exhibition which features C-Note's Incarceration Nation, America's Premier work of art on mass incarceration. The photos were taken with a Polaroid Now x Keith Haring Edition, Color I-type film. These two rare photographs are called ICONS, in recognition of these survivors, Polaroid, Haring, and C-Note.

A Better San Jose Peaceful Rally 2021

The social justice implications of the Incarceration Nation Billboard Art Exhibition spawned a brand new community organization, A Better San Jose.

On Tuesday November 2, 2021, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at 861 West San Carlos at the Incarceration Nation Billboard Art Installation, A Better San Jose (ABSJ) held a peaceful rally. It provided information regarding: San Jose's homeless youth and returning citizens, the power of Education through High School Graduation, Trades, and University Degrees.

Another one of ABSJ concerns, was the lack of a credible response from local elected officials, from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo, the San Jose City Council members and the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors. These elected officials received email invitations to attend, and either did not respond, or said there was a scheduling issue.

However, friends of Santa Clara County Public Defender Sajid A. Khan did attend the rally. Khan, 38, is looking to unseat three-term Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen during the June 2022 election.

Pamphlets and other materials, including the contact information of the elected officials were handed out to attendees.

Anna D. Smith's "Look Up! 2" Hope & Beauty Art Exhibition, and Art Sale, Dec 27 - Jan 31, 2022 

Anna D. Smith's "Look Up! 2" Hope & Beauty Art Exhibition, and Art Sale, Dec 27 - Jan 31, 2022 was the second of four seasonal Billboard Art Exhibitions to take place in San Jose, California, the largest city in the Silicon Valley.

It featured C-Note's 2015 Colored Girl Warholed. A work inspired by Andy Warhol's 1962 retrospective of Marilyn Monroe, Warhol's Four Marylins. Warhol memorialized Marilyn Monroe from a publicity photo ten years prior to her death in 1962. By doing so, some would argue he created Modern Art's first Mona Lisa.

By contrast, C-Note used his 2009, Wax on paper, Colored Girl. In a 2016 interview with Darealprisonart he describes the piece:

(2016) C-Note holding Colored Girl
(2016) C-Note holding Colored Girl

DRPA: Now we asked you to bring some art, you initially only brought two pieces, and then went back and grab four more, why was that?
C-Note: Well, I thought about it, and these other pieces would add to the richness of the conversation and let you know what kind of work I do and how I utilize these works.

DRPA: So what piece would you like to start off with first?

C-Note: "Colored Girl (Highlighted)"

DRPA: I notice it's a print, and it's called "Highlighted," does that mean there is more to this piece?

C-Note: Yes, I still have the original that I hope to give and have exhibited in the National Museum of African American History and Culture, on the National Mall, in Washington D.C.. It's a very significant piece, for one, it's a very beautiful piece. It is a piece, and its beauty was made on an accident. In other words, I have no clue how it came about. I work in a medium that doesn't get recognized, I work in wax. So I put all this different kind of wax together and different formulae to dissolve the wax on paper. I had a model. A picture out of a magazine. But I'm not confident as an artist so I don't want people to compare my finished product to the model or image that I used. I called it "Colored Girl." I think it fits. It's clearly a coloration of something, of a woman. But the word "Colored," though it is a pejorative today, was once known as the desired description that African Americans prefer to be described as. "Colored," "Negro," "Black," these were all terms that African-Americans themselves demanded of the press and white audiences; this is what you call us. An example would be W. E. B. Dubois NAACP. It was originally called the National Negro Committee. Booker T. Washington and other famous black activist before him, demanded that whites call us "Negroes." So three years after founding the National Negro Committee, W. E. B. Dubois change the name to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. That's proof enough that blacks demanded that they be called "Colored." So "Colored Girl," what is that? Any black girl, and that's pretty much the response that I have gotten from this piece. It's funny because, I used a famous person for this piece, but for my own insecurities I never named the person in this piece and all sorts of blacks swear on a stack of Bibles they know who this person is. I hear the name "Vanessa Williams," "Janet Jackson," "Eva Pigford," all across the spectrum. When blacks see the piece, when I show the original, they just get animated. They just light up. There is this spiritual thing that goes on, we begin to communicate telepathically with one another. African Americans have a general complaint that there is a dearth of positive images of them, so there is this silent communication between me and others that this is what that is. So an accidental discovery, "the piece," and the title, does what it is intended to do, any "Colored Girl."

DRPA: Wow, that's quite a story there.

C-Note: Ah, but it's just one.

In the spring of 2015, C-Note began selling art prints of Colored Girl Warholed. In the fall of 2015, the auction house Christie's sold Warhol's Four Marilyns for $36 million.

In the winter of 2021 a new variant of the Coronavirus, Omicron, had become too virulent for a retail art sale inside of Santana Row. The Billboard art installation served as an entrance into Santana Row.

Santana Row is the home to premiere restaurants, residential, and retail. It allowed for one-million Billboard Art Exhibition daily views. Google, Facebook, and Apple workers live in Santana Row. Tesla has a showroom in Santana Row, and Sports teams stay at the Valencia Hotel in Santana Row.

"This Billboard is about Hope and Beauty," states Fine Art and Real Estate Broker Anna D. Smith.

Despite Breanna Taylor, Valentina Orellana-Peralta, #MeToo, #SayHerName, C-Note's Art reminds us we are all grandmothers, mothers, other mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces, and have Beauty and Dignity.
Nevertheless, Anna D. Smith's "Look Up!" 2 Hope & Beauty Billboard Art Exhibition was absolutely necessary in these two + years of trying times of uncertainty and social isolation for all of Humankind. I was able to create two Art Events with C-Note's help, and I'm joyful about this!
Anna D. Smith's "Look Up! 2" Hope & Beauty Art Exhibition, Dec 27 - Jan 31, 2022 | Eventbritehttps://www.eventbrite.com/e/anna-d-smiths-look-up-2-hope-beauty-art-exhibition-tickets-226313609097/ 

Droning the Look Up! 2 Art Exhibition