Mark Francis: Sculptures from the Inside

Mark Francis (American, b. 1960) Prison Blues, 2011. Papier-mâché and other media. Collection of the Kentucky Folk Art Center

Mark Francis (American, b. 1960) Prison Blues, 2011. Papier-mâché and other media.
Collection of the Kentucky Folk Art Center

August 3-October 8, 2017
Curated by Alison Amick and Matt Collinsworth


Over more than 25 years of incarceration (1986-2014) for a murder conviction, Marvin (Mark) Francis taught himself to create fantastical papier-mâché sculptures of dramatic scenes and visions from inside prison. Using limited materials available—including toilet paper, crushed ramen noodles, nail clippers, paper clips and, eventually, mail-order wooden dowel rods—he depicted the social, emotional and psychological impacts of his life behind bars.

Mark Francis: Sculptures from the Inside examines a range of emotions and experiences from his incarcerated time in Kentucky state penitentiaries over more than two and half decades through eight sculptures, including the centerpiece, “Prison Blues” (2011) featuring a block of six jail cells occupied by inmates in a variety of provoking and unsettling states and activities.

A victim of child abuse, Francis has expressed that art has helped his healing process, and he, therefore, donates the majority of proceeds from artwork sales to programs that help break the cycle of all types of child abuse. Today, Francis lives and works in central Tennessee.

Visit the following link to read coverage of this exhibition: Chicago Tribune, "Outsider art from the inside at Intuit"

Special thanks to the Kentucky Folk Art Center at Morehead State University for its generous loans of Mark Francis artworks from its permanent collection.