Group searches for those who were part of an art project while incarcerated at Rikers Island

An organization is searching for people once incarcerated at Rikers Island to honor the art project they were a part of. News 12's Katelynn Ulrich has more.

Katelynn Ulrich and News 12 Staff

Jul 8, 2024, 11:26 AM

Updated 13 days ago

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When it came to painting murals throughout Rikers between 2008 and 2019, Groundswell NYC founder and Interim Executive Director Amy Sanaman says figuring out what supplies were permitted in the jail was time-consuming.
In 2008, Groundswell began working with incarcerated people in Rikers to make murals.
"We mostly worked with the high schoolers on Rikers Island because they were still tried as adults in New York City," said Sanaman.
The Groundswell community mural project continued until 2019.
"We created 50 murals with people incarcerated at that time," said Sanaman.
Out of privacy restrictions and inmates not knowing when they'd be released, the connection between Groundswell and inmates was lost. Now the organization is in search for those artists to document their stories and experiences.
"We want to give people the opportunity if they want to come back to reflect in the community," said Sanaman.
The organization recently started spreading the word -- they haven't heard from anyone yet but remain hopeful they'll reach those involved before Rikers closes.
"The cultural material, like the value of what was created there, is going to be important in the telling of the story of Rikers Island. Nobody is really thinking about, what is this space? What is the historic story of what this place meant?" said Sanaman
To answer their call, click the link in their Instagram bio here.


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