Jamal Biggs

For Detroiter Jamal Biggs creating art came naturally. Growing up in a one-parent home with nine siblings, art was a source of escape, entertainment, and comfort. Unable to see a future in art and distracted by inner-city streets, he stopped drawing; but his wrongful conviction in 1990, at the age of 19, for a crime he did not commit forced him to return to his love of creating art. Despite no formal art schooling, he studied art through books and magazines.

Inspired by the luminous landscapes of the Hudson River School Artists, the figurative work of Caravaggio, the expressive portraits of Sargent, and the imaginative surrealism of Dali, he began creating art professionally 15 years ago. His work is mostly done in acrylic, pastel, charcoal, or colored pencil. He doesn't want to be confined to any one particular artistic style or genre. This is reflected in his landscapes, still lifes, wild lifes, and portraits, which consist of realism, abstract, impressionism, surrealism, and expressionism.

Jamal says his art is, “influenced by belief in the transformative, redemptive nature in people; contrary to the fearful, retaliatory mindset that is prevalent in today’s society. I firmly believe that because an individual is in prison, doesn’t have to mean he can’t still be of value to his family and community, and have dreams and aspirations to become a better human being.” His paintings and drawings seek to reflect this duality of a person searching for identity and self-respect in a society that wants to make him irrelevant and finds him unworthy of self-respect.

Awards & Honors

"Sun Glow" Honorable Mention Award, PCAP, University of Michigan, 2000

"Moment of Prayer" 1st Place Award, PCAP, University of Michigan, 2001

"Transcendent Love" 1st Place Award, PCAP, University of Michigan, 2005

“Oprah (Orpah): The Bequest & Pilgrimage" Honorable Mention Award, PCAP, 
 University of Michigan, 2006

"Luther VanDross" Honorable Mention Award, PCAP, University of Michigan, 2008

"Barack Obama: Perfecting the Union" 1st Place Award, PCAP,
 University of Michigan, 2009


Annual Exhibition of Art by Michigan Prisoners, Duderstadt Center Gallery,

Ann Arbor, Michigan

United Nations World Environment Day Exhibition, San Francisco, California

Poetry & Paint Exhibition, Detroit, Michigan

STOPMAX Conference, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA

Critical Resistance Conference, Oakland, CA

Starry Nights Gallery Exhibition, Allegan, MI

Publications, Articles & Reviews

“A Crack in the Concrete” The Prison Creative Arts Project & the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights

LaPrense, Art: University of Michigan is Venue for 11th Show Exhibiting Prisoners’ Art, Author Unknown, Feb. 22, 2006

The Michigan Independent, PCAP Showcases Prisoner Creativity, Challenges,

 Misconceptions, Kimberly Leung, Mar. 27, 2006

"Art Showcase" Michigan Prisoners Find Voice in Art, Jonathan Himlin,
Mar/Apr 2007

Prison Arts Coalition, Creating Art on the Inside, April 24, 2009

Related Links

The Prison Arts Coalition
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Copyright 2007 Jamal Biggs. Website owned and operated by Patricia Biggs.

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