The Collection

The Eric “Superman” Sturgess paño collection boasts an impressive range of themes, each with its unique style and symbolism. The Catholic faith symbols depicted in the collection capture the essence of religious devotion, while Chicano imagery reflects the cultural heritage of Mexican Americans. The Aztec theme showcases the rich history and traditions of the ancient civilization, and the cartoon character motifs offer a fun and playful tone. Sports themes are also featured, highlighting the passion and excitement of various athletic activities. The prison motifs, on the other hand, delve into the harsh realities of incarceration and its impact on individuals. The collection is truly diverse, catering to a wide range of tastes and interests.

Why Do I Collect Prison Art?

Why do I collect prison art is a common question I get from California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation inmates. Well, let’s start from the beginning. As a child, I lived in a dilapidated two-bedroom and one-bath 763-square-foot home in North Long Beach, California.

There were large holes in the floor near my bed; you could see the dirt underneath the house through. The walls next to my bed were covered in a thick black mold, the same as our bathroom ceiling. Rats would enter our house at night and crawl around the kitchen and my bedroom. One night, I woke to a giant dirty rat beside my face. That house’s sorry state of disrepair is a perfect metaphor for the care and leadership of the adults in my life as a child.

Growing up, we had no heat in our home; I still vividly recall those chilly mornings getting out of the shower and shaking because I was so cold. Food was also very scarce in my house, and there was once a three-day span as a kid when I didn’t have food to eat. My dad wasn’t around during those years of my childhood, and in my entire life, he has never told me that he loves me. My childhood could be summed up as cold, abusive, and hungry.

These factors drove me to the streets to find what I was missing at home: a sense of belonging and camaraderie. I eventually started an association with a small group of teenagers with similar backgrounds as myself. We created a street gang called “Six Feet Under.” We committed various crimes around our community for several months. I eventually landed in a cold and lonely cage in the Long Beach City Jail.

The circumstances highlighted above have bred in me an innate fascination with prison art. I feel the pain and struggle in prison art, and it is a vivid reminder to me from the depths of where God has brought me in my life.

God bless you.

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