From Incarceration to Inspiration: Halim Flowers’ Artistic Journey.

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At the age of 16, Halim Flowers found himself arrested, tried as an adult, and subsequently imprisoned for murder in the United States. Now, at 42 years old, he has emerged as a prolific artist, poet, and writer, showcasing his talent in a Paris exhibition. His transformation from inmate to artist is nothing short of extraordinary.

Flowers’ release in 2019 came after a change in US law allowed for the resentencing of individuals who were under 18 when tried as adults. Just a year later, the COVID-19 pandemic compelled Flowers to explore painting as an artistic outlet, at the suggestion of his wife, who is also an artist. With no prior knowledge of color mixing or brush care, he embarked on this new journey, emphasizing that art became his sole passion and replaced any previous dependencies.

His artwork, vibrant and symbolically rich, sheds light on the experiences of marginalized individuals, including prisoners, the homeless, and those with mental health challenges. Currently exhibiting his paintings at the Champop gallery in Paris, Flowers has already sold artwork worth over $1 million, as he shared with the National Public Radio in 2021.

Flowers’ present life stands in stark contrast to the despondent teenager portrayed in the 1998 HBO documentary “Thug Life in DC.” Back then, he expressed a profound lack of hope and anticipated his mother’s potential demise before his own release. Growing up in a disadvantaged neighborhood during the crack epidemic, Flowers became entangled in drug dealing and was eventually implicated in a fatal robbery, even though he was not the shooter. Convicted under the “aiding and abetting” principle, he and his generation were labeled as “super predators.” Nevertheless, Flowers maintained his innocence and strived to demonstrate his humanity, believing that those currently viewed as beasts could become tomorrow’s museum visitors.

After years of campaigning, Flowers regained his freedom in early 2019, welcomed by his mother’s open arms. Prior to his release, he had already established himself as an author and poet, collaborating with reality TV star Kim Kardashian on “The Justice Project,” a documentary that played a role in the release of one of Flowers’ childhood friends. He had the opportunity to meet Kardashian and her then-husband, Kanye West, but he attributes his initial interest in visual art to the influence of rapper Jay-Z, who rapped about the renowned artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Flowers’ exposure to Basquiat’s legacy inspired him to study art while incarcerated.

While some may draw parallels between Flowers’ work and that of Basquiat, he vehemently denies any accusations of imitation, emphasizing that his art pays homage to his ancestors and reflects a shared spirit. His ultimate goal is to challenge perceptions, particularly concerning justice, using his art as a vehicle for change. Flowers is determined to create a new visual language that can counteract the pandemic of lovelessness he sees afflicting society, aiming to transform our understanding of justice in the process.

SOURCE: Ref – Paris (AFP)

Images: Google Images

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