Art from Bangkwang prison
Felix Cheremnykh is a 39-year-old inmate from the Ukraine, serving a 40-year sentence in Thailand’s infamous Bangkwang prison. With no artistic training, Felix has been sketching and drawing inside Bangkwang these past nine years as a means to survive spiritually and to fight for his freedom. Disavowed by his country after his arrest, he has no support from the Ukrainian Embassy, and is petitioning the Russian government to help him. He hopes to use his artwork to bring awareness to his situation inside Bangkwang, the conditions of which are in violation of international human rights standards. He draws in ballpoint pen on paper up to 15 hours a day in his crowded cell.
The drawing was submitted on Felix’s behalf by Canadian activist Heather Luna-Rose, director of Luna-Rose Prisoner Support Society, who spends several months every year at Bangkwang prison, Thailand, daily visiting foreign-national prisoners. She brings vitamins, food, and toiletries and bears witness. She writes,
I started visiting Felix two years ago, and his incredible determination continually inspires me. In 2010, I exhibited his original works at an art gallery on Salt Spring island, BC. All proceeds from the sales of his work were deposited into his prison account, which he uses to buy his food, water, sleeping space on the ground, and all necessities in the prison.
Often unable to contact families, nor to get support from their embassies, the poorest prisoners’ lives are extremely difficult. In addition to the pain of incarceration in an inhumane prison system, these men endure the trauma of isolation away from their home country, culture, language and support of loved ones.
I come to this work after years of feminist activism, teaching and research on gender-based violence. A survivor of violence, I am dedicated to actively opposing all forms of degrading and or humiliating treatment.