The Western Montana Mental Health Center is trying to fight the mental health crisis in prisons through art, and they're showing some of the results to the Missoula community.
Art From the Inside is an event that will display artwork created by inmates in Missoula jails. The show is the brainchild of Western Montana Mental Health Center jail diversion program manager Amy Chesebro, who works with inmates to constructively process the hopelessness and isolation they experience in jail. She says she hopes the event reminds the community that prisoners are still people.
"I hope to humanize the experience of incarceration," Chesebro said. "To raise awareness about jails being our number one mental health provider in the nation, about suicide being the number one cause of death in incarceration. I think these are massive issues across the nation, and in our community."
Chesebro says the program is a way for inmates to release the feelings bottled up inside of them, and they've produced powerful work. She says the pieces displayed at the show were donated by the prisoners who created them.
"We just got these pieces that really told a story about incarceration, and it almost felt like an obligation to share that with the community," Chesebro said."
The Art From the Inside gallery show is scheduled for Friday, December 7 at 5 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church in Missoula. The art isn't for sale, and the event is free for the community.