I first met art when in early mornings, I would go with my Mom to the methadone clinic and she would buy Low Rider Art and Teen Angel Magazines and doodle flowers on a heroin pill. At age 10 or so my father had just come home from prison, my cousin Anthony had got me into comics and I fell in love with the Rebel Wolverine. My Dad showed interest and taught me how to trace and I was off to the races. Tracing and copying.
Then I found a copy machine and was shocked that I could mass produce my art. Bart Simpson doodles soon followed, inspired by that image of Bart stuck in the butt cheeks of a woman that read “Crack Kills” as he was getting the life squeezed out of him. To young me, this was the greatest thing on earth. This was during the first Iraq war, Desert Storm, and all the shirts depicted cartoon caricatures of Saddam getting bombed.
I never knew back then how much art would mean to me in my life…It Saved Me. When I was on my bunk crushed with the weight of 64,000 days on my chest, I would turn to a blank canvas and numbly draw. Staying busy was all I could do to stay alive. Who would have thought that I’d use a tool my parents taught me as a kid, to cope with being sentenced to die in prison? My motivation for drawing can vary, sometimes I draw for fun, sometimes I’m inspired and compelled to create and sometimes I draw for food, cause I still gotta eat. My favorite art medium is a marker and pen on canvas or cloth. Portraits, civil rights era, and political art.
Art utensils are very limited in prison unless your prison has a Hobby Program. We are in the midst of getting a Hobby Program approved so we can order through Dick Blick. I work as a Secretary of the Men’s Advisory Council and we have been working with the administration for two years to get this approved, so it is a big deal for all the artists in our facility. We will be able to make clocks, get canvas, acrylic paints, markers, beads etc.
Part of the reason I create is that I love to make people smile. So I will often draw just to put a smile on someone’s face. Someday I will do art on T-shirts, hats, tank tops. I have a name for a clothing line picked out; it is a name born out of struggle and survival against the odds.
I am currently working on earning my freedom back. If you would like to help please Google Jessie Milo @ Change.org, and sign the petition to support my release. Please share and re-post the link.
I’d like to say Thank You to Designed Conviction for giving us incarcerated artist’s a platform to be seen and heard. By doing this you bring joy and positivity to our lives, which in turn makes my environment safer. So thank you Designed Conviction. Sincerely,
Jessie Milo CDCR P40495 (3A05-147)
P.O. Box 3461
Corcoran, CA 93212