Hobby Craft: Artwork from the Arizona State Prison Complex

For those who are incarcerated, creating artwork is a privilege. In fact, the Arizona Department of Corrections has specific guidelines devoted to regulations concerning incarcerated people creating art. The Arizona Department of Corrections refers to this Earned Incentive Program as “Hobby Craft.”

Based on the security and incentive levels of the individual, Hobby Craft privileges vary. At the most basic level, artists may choose from origami or pencil and paper. Increased incentive levels mean access to a wider range of materials, such as watercolor or glue. Incarcerated people are allowed a maximum of three arts and craft materials. There are no Hobby Craft privileges for people on Death Row.

Throughout the summer of 2019, staff from the UAMA and the UArizona Department of English’s Prison Education Project led art appreciation, label writing and art jurying workshops at seven units of the Arizona State Prison Complex in Tucson. During the fall, each prison unit held their own art exhibition based on the theme of “resilience,” and fellow incarcerated people determined the jury and the process by which the artwork was judged. Through this process, each yard selected three to four works of art for display in this exhibition. Therefore, the works in this exhibition were not selected by museum curators, but rather by a jury of the artists’ peers from within the prison.

As this exhibition demonstrates, the human impulse to create art often transcends limited access to materials and limited movement. You will notice an inventive procurement of and use of materials and a variety of themes. In this, we hope you will see that the creative act itself reveals incredible resilience.


10 a.m. Jan. 17, 2020 to 5 p.m. March 29, 2020