Incarcerated for nearly three decades, Mark Francis taught himself to make some of most intricate and evocative papier-mâché sculptures the world has seen, using only the crude materials and tools afforded to him in prison.
Art saved Mark Francis’ life.
In 1986, Francis shot and killed a man during a botched robbery attempt. He was sentenced to twenty-five years to life for his crime. He began experimenting with sculpture in a prison art class. With no prior art experience, using toilet paper and paste made from boiled oatmeal or rice as his medium, Francis began to hone technical skills in papier-mâché. Over the proceeding decades, art became Mark’s form of psychotherapy, helping him deal with the pain and troubles of his early years—providing a purpose and voice. Through his art, Mark explored the social, emotional and psychological impacts of life in prison.
In this talk, Francis is joined by Mark Collinsworth of the Kentucky Folk Art center and Kentucky artist Bob Morgan. Together, they trace the evolution of Francis’ art, each piece a profound exploration of moments of hopelessness, introspection and discovery from his time in prison.