Fresh as Fruit Gallery Opening April 23: Painting Requests from Tomoka

Next Friday, April 23, from 6-9 p.m., Painting Requests from Tomoka will open at Fresh as Fruit Gallery, located at 211 W. Rich Ave. in downtown DeLand.

This exhibition features paintings from Stetson students created in collaboration with Stetson Community Education Project students. Stetson painting students whose work will be exhibited are: Anonymous, Blaze, Laura Cheshire, Crystal Freeland, Ja’nea Houston, Emma Angela Dennison and Marisa Luz Ingram, Carly Perales, Gordon Silva, Jakob Suarez and Natalie Thomas.

Cultural credit will be available at the opening reception. All of the artwork, requests and installation images will be available on Fresh as Fruit’s website following the opening.

Painting Requests from Tomoka is inspired by Photo Requests from Solitary, a participatory art project launched in 2009 by Tamms Year Ten. PRFS was part of Tamms Year Ten’s grassroots organizing to close Tamms Correctional Center, a notorious supermax prison in Illinois that was finally shuttered in 2013. From PRFS’s website:

PRFS offers audiences a direct and powerful connection to people in solitary confinement, either by contributing photographs or by simply reading their requests and visualizing the images they have described. Making these often elaborate descriptions into images, which can then be sent back to the people who conceived of them, completes an artistic collaboration that acknowledges the shared creativity and humanity of individuals on both sides of the prison walls.

In the spirit of this unique connection and collaboration, Stetson University Community Education Project (CEP) students were invited to submit requests for paintings—no limitations other than their imagination—for Stetson University painting students to fulfill. The call for painting requests went out via a CEP newsletter printed and delivered to Tomoka Correctional Institution in Daytona Beach, where the state of Florida incarcerates CEP students. Eleven hand-written requests were mailed back, filled with vivid descriptions and specific instructions (“listen to Diana Krall’s song from this particular album as you […] paint”). Students enrolled in Advanced Painting and Painting I completed the circle of collaboration by painting these requests.