Even though you might be living behind bars, the desire to create still lives inside you. You’ll grab whatever materials you can find and make something to pass the time, to express your fears and to make a statement about your life. In the 1990s, Chicano prisoners in San Antonio, Texas, took square pieces of cotton, called Paños, and created elaborate scenes with ballpoint pen. Some curators now recognize them as folk artist.
Maria Hinojosa went to the home of David Joralemon, a New York art collector and spoke to curator Martha Henry. Part of David’s collection was on tour in Venice.
Martha Henry is a New York independent curator of exhibitions traveling to museums and university galleries throughout the U.S. and internationally. Ms. Henry curated and organized the tour of Art from the Inside: Paño Drawings by Chicano Prisoners, a show of 120 ball point pen drawings on handkerchiefs by Texas inmates, which travelled to Wiegand Gallery, Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont, CA: The Snite Museum of Art, University of Notre Dame, IN; Inuit – Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art, Chicago, IL; The New England Center for Contemporary Art, Brooklyn, CT; and El Museo del Barrio, New York, NY between 2004 and 2012.
David Joralemon is an art curator living in the Upper East Side of Manhattan. His personal collection of Latin America and includes ancient art, Latin American colonial furniture and decorative arts, 19th century landscape paintings and drawing by American and French travelers to Latin America, 20th century ethnographic pieces from Panama, Surinam, Brazil and Peru, Chicano paños, and lots of finds from flea markets.