Inmate's art draws rave reviews

By Andy Jenks - bio | email

Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The man in this story has been in jail for about nine months. And he's probably not getting out soon. So he's using his art to try and make his life the way it "should've" been.

With every stroke of a pen or colored pencil, Islam Shabazz Allah can picture himself, somewhere other than here.

"Really have the chance to work at it. Because nothing else to do really!" said Islam.

He's been an inmate at the Richmond City Jail, dating back to last August. And the more time that goes by, it seems, the better an artist he becomes. Lately, those around him, are taking notice.

"I get joy out of other people's reaction because they appreciate art, and I appreciate art as well," Islam said.

The Richmond native never received any formal training, and as soon as he got in the door, he started drawing again.

"I look at inspiration from pictures, from magazines," he said.

Charged with possession of illegal substances, Islam turned 34 years old while incarcerated last October. But his hope is that art will keep his life, in focus. Not that he ever planned it this way.

"I see what me not focusing on has gotten me. Maybe if I concentrate more on this, I would be in a different type of environment," said Islam.

"It gives them hope when they get in the outside world, it also shows them that if you can do this in here, you can do this outside of here and be very productive as a citizen," said Richmond Sheriff C.T. Woody.

Whenever the day of his release comes, Islam will reunite with his family, which includes his three daughters. And when that happens, he'll be able to show them exactly what he's been doing, all this time.

"I want it to inspire them, to look within their selves, and see what gifts they have. That they can use to share with the world and maybe enhance their lives," said Islam.

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