Submitted by Artist WCA Member Carol Morris
September 18th Nadya Tolokonnikova and Masha Alekhina, two of the founding members of Pussy Riot, the Russian art collective, visited Ann Arbor as part of a U.S. tour. Sponsored by a LennonOno grant for peace; they are young women, ages 24 and 26, vigorous, focused and determined. On Thursday they appeared publicly at the Michigan Theater and on Friday morning I attended a private meeting with them and a group of artists and prisoner advocates. The meeting was about Michigan’s success in recent years in bringing art workshops to the incarcerated.
Nadia and Masha are gathering information for their foundation Zona Prava (Zone of Rights.) After suffering hard labor for two years in a Russian prison they were impressed by our art workshops here. Nadia said Russian inmates are only allowed pen and paper and never any art supplies. University of Michigan Prison Creative Arts Project and Youth Arts Alliance promised data and information to help Zona Prova make arguments to the Russian government about the value of art workshops in rehabilitation.
As an art workshop volunteer for over a decade, I was pleased to present Nadya and Misha with sets of my anti- Putin collages. They are taking them back to Russia and reproducing them for distribution.( One collage is posted on Pussy Riots’s Twitter page.) As an artist, I feel appreciated for a good cause, Zona Prava.