Art out of nothing

Donny Johnson has been in solitary confinement since 1980, in one of the toughest prisons in the country. He is serving three life terms for murder and slashing a prison guard’s throat. At some point in his confinement, however, he discovered art, and has now had a gallery show in Mexico and some of his works have sold. Denied access to regular art materials, he has devised a paintbrush from plastic wrap, foil, and strands of his own hair, and he leaches the pigments from M&Ms to use as paint. He paints on the backs of postcards to create “small, intense” paintings like this one, entitled “Mosaic”:


Read the entire article here.

The article’s description of the way he creates his M&M “paints” is a testament to creativity and perseverance. Most of Johnson’s other works (displayed in the NYT slideshow) aren’t as striking as “Mosaic,” but his work is a tremendous example of human ingenuity under duress.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]