Creative Economy | March 4, 2020

Art for Redemption secures early funding to launch marketplace for prison art

Jessica Pothering
ImpactAlpha Editor

Jessica Pothering

ImpactAlpha, March 4 – More than two million people are incarcerated in the U.S., exacting an economic toll on individuals, families and communities.

“It isn’t just the individuals doing time, it’s the families too,” says Buck Adams, who founded Art for Redemption to help inmates support themselves and their families by selling their art.

Adams, who was formerly incarcerated at Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility in Colorado, has secured $100,000 from Colorado-based angel investor group Rockies Venture Club and its donor advised fund, Rockies Impact Fund, to build out the platform and source, list and warehouse artists’ pieces.

“It’s a unique concept and a unique approach to curbing recidivism” says Rockies Venture Club’s Dave Harris

Adams says there is already demonstrated value for prison art, it just hasn’t been realized at scale. “It has economic value inside. I commissioned probably over 100 greeting cards while I was in, an illustration of my dog and other works.”

California’s San Quentin State Prison allows inmates to showcase and sell their works to the public. The CellHouse in Canon City, Colo. sold products made by inmates in Colorado’s prison system before closing down last year.

“This has been done before, but on a mom-and-pop level,” says Adams. “A marketplace lets us do this at scale.”

Depending on the programs offered at each facility, artists’ mediums can range from drawings and watercolors to wood and welded sculptures.

Art for Redemption is developing a coffee table book of prison art for its launch on Kickstarter in May. For each copy purchased, one will be sent to one of 3,800 prison wardens in the U.S. as an advocacy tool for prison art programs.