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Right of Return USA Artwork

"I wasn't raised with religion, during my darkest times, I prayed to my own gods. And they always responded. When I was a kid I struggled with drugs and lost most of my youth to prison in Vermont, or the for-profit prisons they send you to. Traditional religions didn’t speak to me, but I found the power of religion in self affirmation & imagination. The gods who I imagined, spoke to specific parts of my experience in this world, and the experience of the people around me. Much of a person's time in prison is spent imagining the future, or thinking about people who you love who are very far away, or how the idea of love itself feels very far away. Much time is also spent facing seemingly impossible, complicated situations. I learned the intricate art of cutting wood scrollwork as a teenager working in a prison woodshop & spent years designing blueprints for artwork, which I planned to cut after my release. Most of my artwork told stories from that time, often through allegory. I had a whole collection of Hidden Blueprints. I spent the past decade cutting that artwork into mahogany panels. That artwork changed my life. The latest three pieces that I cut were tributes to some of the the spirits who I prayed to when the journey first began..." 

Goddess of Imagined Futures
5'x3' Mahogany Wood Scrollwork

Goddess of Imagined Futures.jpg

Goddess of Far Away Love
5'x3' Mahogany Wood Scrollwork

Goddess of Far Away Love.jpg

Goddess of Impossible Things
5'x3' Mahogany Wood Scrollwork

JLee MacKenzie is a Right of Return USA Fellow.

This work was supported by:

Right of Return USA

The Center for Art and Advocacy

and The Soze Agency

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