Yellow Ribbon Project’s Community Art Exhibition

I don’t normally go to museums to look at art. But when a good friend has an art work being exhibited, I definitely will go and support. Especially if his exhibit is part of an exhibition put up by inmates and ex-offenders. So I went to the Singapore Arts Museum a few days ago to look at (or is it attend?) the Yellow Ribbon Project’s Community Art Exhibition.

Theres a  wall of post-it notes for people to leave comments and words of encouragement for the artists, inmates, and ex-offenders in general. Some of the comments are rather heartwarming.

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I am no artist. I am no art critic. Most of my friends will know me as someone with plebeian tastes. So I won’t pretend pretend and act atas. I will just say that some of the art pieces exhibited looked really nice to me. These are some of the pieces that I particularly liked.

I loved the colour and texture of this painting. The texture made the water look more realistic.

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I like this for the sense of breaking free that it implies. It is the aspiration of many an inmate and ex-offender to break free from their past and soar into a better future.

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If I recall correctly, this was inspired by the inmates wife constantly standing by his side and being his pillar of strength in his journey to becoming a better person. I found this quite moving.

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And then there’s the installation by my good friend, Whye Kee, which is placed at the Glass Hall of SAM.

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It is titled Family Dinner. This is the write-up about the exhibition by Whye Kee:

“The artwork takes the reflection of the humble family meal as its point of departure. Whilst, incarcerated, Kim would reflect on the few meals he managed to partake of with his family and regularly longed for the opportunity to eat a simple meal with them. In 2007, six months before he was due to be released, his father passed away, dashing his hopes of ever again being able to sit down for a meal as one complete family. His mother and sister remain important pillars in his life and this work is in part a tribute to them as well as an attempt to inspire current inmates to keep ‘home’ close to their hearts and “to harness the thoughts of their family as strength when they embark on their journey of reintegration into society”.

The installation comprises a dining table with four bowls as representation of an inmate’s longing for an intimate family dinner whilst a lone chair has been placed at the table as a reminder of the reality that the inmate sits isolated from his/her family. Three of the bowls are halved with texts inscribed on the concave side and are installed such that the writings are reflected and readable on the surface of the highly glossed black table.”

The meaning behind the artwork really tugs at my heartstrings. Even more so because I have witnessed the journey that Whye Kee has been on for the last few years to get to where he is today.

I also love this part of his exhibition, where he displays ceramic bowls that are made by inmates of the Visual Arts Hub (VAH) in Changi Prison. The bowls are then broken and mended by Whye Kee using putty and gold paint.

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This was “inspired by the Kintsugi philosophy on aesthetics, Family Dinner aims to locate and celebrate the beauty in, and of imperfection. As the artist explains: ” Instead of disguising our prison records, they are highlighted as a daily reminder to not repeat our past mistakes.””

Unlike the flashy event for underprivileged kids earlier this year, I think this event is a lot more meaningful. It gives inmates and ex-offenders an outlet to express themselves meaningfully and allows them to develop a skill that could be very useful for them.

There will be a forum where the people behind the exhibition will discuss different aspects of the exhibition. More details here:

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So if you are looking for plans for this weekend, do drop by the SAM for a meaningful afternoon supporting inmates and ex-offenders on their way to rehabilitation and re-integration. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t just say say only. Must do. Or worse, say one thing do another. Then that’s being hypocritical. Support with actions. It’s a meaningful cause!

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