Forsyth County inmate art program aims to ‘help to make better people’

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FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. — They call him “The Radio” and when Prince McDonald can’t find the right words, he lets his pencil do the talking.

He’s been in the Forsyth County Detention Center for 20 months. For him and some of his fellow inmates, art is an escape.

“It took me out of the institution mentally,” McDonald said. “Yeah, my body’s here, but my mind left.”

Jeffery Maxcy has been here for about seven months.

“Some days I don’t draw and then I have spells where I draw every day,” Maxcy said.

And Ernesto has been here for about three months.

“I don’t like that much colors,” he said. “I like it black and white and dark.”

When people at the jail saw what they were putting onto paper, Chaplain Tejado Hanchell saw an opportunity.

“Using art, using spirituality, using creativity, all of those things, I believe help to make better people, and that’s what we’re in the business of doing,” Hanchell said.

This summer the jail invited inmates to submit work based on the theme “Hope.”

Ernesto drew a friend’s sister. He was inspired by what it represents: family.

We met another inmate who couldn’t tell us his story but still got his message across.

William Flores cannot hear or speak and doesn’t know American Sign Language. Many of his pictures are spiritual in nature, and others leave you curious about the deeper meaning.

Prince told us that he’s still working on his “hope” project but says this outlet has been what he needed to grow as a person.

“Whether I’m doing it through art, or whether I’m talking to people, a lot of the people in the dorm I’m located in come to me and they’re like, ‘Yo, you’re so positive. When I’m around you, you help me out a lot.’ So I feed off of that positive energy—and this is true words,” McDonald said.

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