Prisoner profile: striving for the best
23 January 2012
Azah Jae Tee (not his real name), a student with The Learning Connexion for the past two years, has always been keen to exhibit his work as much as possible.
A prisoner undertaking the first year of the diploma programme through The Learning Connexion, Azah was a finalist in the Oi You street art competition in 2011. He was also awarded a merit scholarship to continue his studies this year.
“Being in an exhibition is a chance to show people my work, get known and get feedback,” Azah says. “I like feedback a lot ‘cos it helps push me. I’m very competitive with my work. I strive for the best always.”
There are approximately 80 prisoners studying art from Corrections’ facilities around the country, using the distance-learning processes at The Learning Connexion. Sharon Hall, Restricted Programmes Co-ordinator and Distance Delivery Mentor at The Learning Connexion, says Azah is dedicated to his art practice and works across a range of media, including painting, drawing and carving.
As for Azah, what he most values about the course is getting feedback on his work and seeing other people’s work. “Being a part of that vibe is pretty solid, eh. I just bounce off everything. Take a bit of this and that, put my flavour on it, and you’ve got a masterpiece. I’m stoked as!”
1. Before enrolling in the course, how much art-making experience did you have?
As far back as I can remember, I’ve been drawing. I pick up new styles and equipment fast. I started back at school, where I was supposed to be doing my school work but instead, I was usually drawing in my books. That led to tagging and next thing, I’m doing graffiti. When I was in Juveys, all I did at our school was draw. That’s where my teachers pushed me to do it. Ever since then, I’ve realised how natural art is to me.
2. What are the things that art teaches you most about?
Art teaches me about being mindful, expressive and open-minded. Every day is a learning experience. Most of all, I say art teaches you how to be patient. I am patient to an extent but I’m still young and so I lose my cool at times. Art is enjoyable and I can use it as a way to spend time with my daughter, and teach her and others who want to learn.
3. Do you think the skills that you learn when you’re making art transfer to other things you do in your daily life?
Yes, I reckon in the appreciation of creation and just knowing how things are created. It has to come from art. Seeing how you can dismantle, say, a car and how the artist creates the look of the shell and the inside of the car is buzzy!
4. Looking to the future, do you see yourself utilising the skills you have learned so far?
Yeah, I have heaps of plans with all the skills I’ve learned with TLC. I’m still working on future plans and don’t really wanna go on about it. It’s projects all in work at the moment but it’s something I wanna keep covered.