A new exhibit is coming to The Sold Firm Art Gallery in Wilmington, featuring the work of an artist currrently incarcerated at Vaughn Correctional Center (JTVCC) in Smyrna.
In this week’s Arts Playlist, Delaware Public Media’s Kelli Steele speaks with that artist, Sakana Walls, and Sold Firm founder Nataki Oliver about the exhibit.
The exhibit is called "Storm" and tells Walls' story.
The 49-year-old is a Philadelphia artist currently serving a 22-year sentence in a Delaware prison for 2nd degree murder.
“Before I was arrested I used to work at a place called Iron Hill Brewery down on the Riverfront. And I was working in the culinary arts field, but I was also at that time battling with addiction. So my drug of choice was crack cocaine," said Walls. "My incarceration stemmed from my addiction. And what happened was - I had owed a drug debt and the person came to collect the debt and I didn’t have the money and I got charged with 2nd degree murder.”
The Sold Firm Art Gallery was founded in 2018 by Nataki Oliver to exhibit emerging modern and contemporary artists.
She notes that Walls is the first incarcerated individual she’s worked with, but she doesn’t expect he’ll be the last.
"There’s more work to be done. There’s more work to be done," said Oliver. " I actually had this thought to work with an incarcerated artist probably about three years ago. I had this conversation with an individual here in Wilmington. And it just never manifested. It’s all about timing. It’s all about when the universe lines up.”
“Storm” opens at The Sold Firm on February 19 and runs through April 24.
Delaware Public Media' s arts coverage is made possible, in part, by support from the Delaware Division of the Arts, a state agency dedicated to nurturing and supporting the arts in Delaware, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.