Universe Space


2012 400 sq. ft. mural

Site: Hamilton County Jail’s fourth floor classroom

Artists: Eleven Hamilton County Jail Inmates with lead artist Charlie Newton

Partners: Hamilton County Department of Detention and the Tennessee Arts Commission

Description: This mural, featuring outer space, was painted on the walls of classroom #4 at the Hamilton County Jail by inmates during weekly art classes. Universe Space challenges concepts of physical freedom and confinement. The participating inmates were encouraged to find space within themselves where there is freedom to reflect on past actions, find emotional maturity, and organize plans for a better life upon release. Though physically confined, inmates often remarked that they felt “free” when painting in the classroom.

Photos of the final mural and inmates working on Universe Space were exhibited at the Hamilton County Courthouse, where community members were invited to view and celebrate this often uncelebrated population. 

Universe Space was funded in part by Tennessee Arts Commission.