December 27, 2015 – Where we might see an ostrich egg, others can see a blank canvas … the perfect medium for a message shaped by memories. Here is a story from Jane Pauley:
At first glance, they look like something wrought by Faberge: egg-shaped sculptures, elegantly carved into lacy designs, and oh-so-delicate. But look again, and the art’s true meaning comes into focus: An unsparing account of life behind bars.
“When I do a piece, I actually have to go back to prison mentally,” said artist Gil Batle, “to feel the loneliness, the anger, the fear. I have to go back there in order to recreate that scene again, the brick wall, the bars. And when I look up from the egg, you know, I feel gratitude that I’m not there anymore.”
Batle spent most of his adult life in and out of California jails and prisons. for fraud and forgery. Yet after nearly a decade of freedom, Batle finds himself drawn back to the scenes that once defined his world.
“On a lot of the eggs, I have a chain gang,” he told Pauley. “And I used to think those aren’t just 20 guys. Those are 20 guys with 20 different stories.”
“Do you give each individual a different face?” she asked.
“It’s impossible to do the same face. You can’t make the same face. Different faces, but no expressions.”