by Julia Gomez

La Bahia separates Cuba from the American territory known as Guantanamo Bay.

The only American military base located in a socialist country. Guantanamo Bay is a naval station where prisoners suspect of working with terrorist groups are held, without a court date.

In 2009, a year after Barack Obama became president, the U.S. Military introduced Art Classes to the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. Prisoner’s would be given supplies and issues of National Geographic and told to paint to their heart’s content. 

In October, 2017, Art from Guantanamo, Ode to the Sea opened in the President’s Gallery of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The exhibit is remaining open until January 26,2018. On display are 36 works of arts, from statues to water color paintings. The free exhibit allows those who are curious a chance to see art created behind walls. “The exhibit will display some of these evocative works, made by eight men: four who have since been cleared and released from Guantánamo, and four who remain there. They paint the sea again and again
although they cannot reach it.”  However, the exhibit is sparking some controversy. After the opening, prisoners were no longer allowed to release their art to lawyers or relatives. The U.S. Government is now saying art
created in the prison belongs solely to the U.S. Government. Maj. Ben Sakrisson, a spokesperson for the Pentagon, wrote an email saying:  “items
produced by detainees at Guantánamo Bay remain the property of the U.S. government.” 

Brene Brown once said, “Creativity is the way I share my soul with the world.” Art is seen as an outlet and a form of communication by many. By preventing the art from leaving the prison grounds, the government is showing they do not want the world to see how inmates view themselves and the world they leave. It may soon lead to more people believing they have something to hide.

- Julia Gomez, 12.13.07

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