I am a 46-year-old son, brother, father, grandfather, painter and published author who adheres to the Rastafari way of life.
I’m often asked where does my art come from, what’s my inspiration? I’ve struggled to answer because I didn’t want to so bluntly state the truth. To understand we must go back in time. When I was a teen, I began to show signs of mental illness, drug use and gangs. My family moved to Green Bay in an effort to save me. At the age of 17, I participated in a crime that led to the loss of an innocent life.
I was physically disabled (bilateral hearing loss), mentally ill, emotionally unstable, biologically unable to fully comprehend the consequences of my actions. As a result, I was tried, convicted, and sentenced to die on Wisconsin’s version of death row. My judge told me during my sentencing that one day I’d die in a cold dark prison cell. I’ll have gone nowhere; I’ll have done nothing. I’ll have no family, no friends. He went on to say that he hoped the guards were nice enough to give me a piece of paper and a stamp so I could write to my gang buddies and warn them. These words were like a horse whip tearing into the flesh of my spirit.
Then one day it dawned on me that through my art I could go anywhere in the world, and I could do all sorts of things. I’ve become an artist that uses my art to show the world my journey and to give you an unbiased look into the soul of a man who has spent 30 years turning every prison cell into my own personal art studio. And though it hasn’t been easy, I’ve done it. I took the judge’s advice further and picked up some paper, some pencils, some paints & brushes and I’ve shown you where my art comes from and what inspires me. In doing so I’ll live on through my books and art for many years after I’m gone.
Painting has become my lover, companion, counselor and sometimes even my torturer.
From Instagram @darrenmorrisart:
I am DarRen Morris. I come from Southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois where I was a former street hustler and gang member.
17. That was my age when I entered prison. I have now served more than half of my life in maximum security Wisconsin prisons. Currently I am in Green Bay Correctional Institution.
My sentence? Life in prison. My crime? I was party to the unintentional death of an innocent man.
Although I was involved in his death, I am not a murderer. I know this in my heart, in my regret for this loss of life, and the pain I caused so many people, and in my daily actions.
I am an artist. I paint and donate my works of art. In the years to come I want to create art that will help save youth from making thoughtless choices.
I also want to create art that will help you on the outside understand what we face on the inside - the very real need for prison reform in Wisconsin - the very real need to involve more people and working towards prisoner rehabilitation rather than punishment.
Most of us on the inside are both perpetrators and victims. Hurt people hurt people. Help me lessen the hurt.
#blacklivesmatter #prisonreform #endmassincarceration #wisconsinprisonreform #artbyinmates #prisonerart #artworkI am DarRen Morris. I come from Southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois where I was a former street hustler and gang member.