Talented inmates at Fairbanks Correctional Center are sprucing up the walls of the jail with colorful art murals.
“The first mural was several years ago,” said the center’s superintendent, Tamara Axelsson. “Everything is done by different inmates.”
When inmates proposed the idea, the jail administrators approved the idea in hopes of making the interior look a little less sterile.
“Does it have to look dreary?” Axelsson asked. “I don’t think so.”
Some of the inmates were really motivated, she added.
“I said, ‘I’d love to see your idea. Go for it,’” she said. “It was a joint effort, but inmates get most of the credit. It was their minds and talent behind it.”
Colorful murals are now located throughout the building and are all different, depending on their locations.
The waiting bench outside the medical area features a dreamcatcher. Windows that have been painted over with blue paint became an underwater scene.
When inmates wanted to paint something inspirational in the chapel, Axelsson’s only requirement was that it be “nondenominational” so people of all faiths could enjoy it. A colorful tropical bird brightens up the area where children come into the facility.
An Alaskana mural covers an entire wall in the gymnasium and features everything from the Golden Days Rubber Duckie Race to the Santa Claus House, the Riverboat Discovery and all the activities Alaskans love to engage in during four Alaska seasons.
The inmates who painted this mural loved “Star Wars” and, if you look closely, you’ll see R2-D2 peeking out from behind a snowbank. Up in the sky, the Millenium Falcon is flying near an Alaska bush plane. And the Lacey Street Theatre displays “Star Wars” on the marquee.
The newest full wall mural in the gymnasium focuses on music. Local musician Marc Brown appears to be the first Alaska musician depicted on that wall. His visit to the mural led to his band performing for inmates Dec. 11.
FCC rules prohibit listing names of inmates who participated in these projects.
“Over the last couple years, there have probably been about 15 inmates,” Axelsson said. Most of them participated in painting the Alaskana mural, she said.
Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at firstname.lastname@example.org. Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter @FDNMKris.