The Unforgettable Detainee Artwork Of Guantanamo Bay

Detainee Ship Painting River Image GTMO 2013

Most of the 166 detainees at Guantanamo Bay may never see a day in court. They may never be released from the detention centre in Cuba.

Among the only ways they will ever get to express themselves is through art.

Compliant detainees at Guantanamo are allowed to take art classes, among other privileges.  These classes are the only place where detainees feel free to be themselves without pressure from others, according to the cultural advisor on base, a 50-something Iraqi named Zak.

Some of the work, which hangs in the detainee library at Camp Four, is hauntingly beautiful.

The Guantanamo detainee library is behind the fence here at Camp Delta, not far from where sharpshooters were stationed in the darker early days.

Camp Delta has no detainees today — they've been moved to newer facilities — but their presence remains.

That presence is felt most potently here in the library where detainee artwork goes up one hallway wall ...

... and down another.

I'm told that art classes are where prisoners' minds feel most free ...

But often their thoughts don't get far from some type of wall.

Life behind bars shapes the mind ...

As does an extremely uncertain future.

Everyone held here is a long way from home ...

But many paintings imagine home, wherever that may be.

Not all detainee paintings are dark

Some paintings draw on images from another life

And familiar places.

Some images are inspired from the pages of magazines.

There are sculptures too, like this incredible ship made out of cardboard.

Some paintings are bright and full of life.

But not one of them includes people.

There are remote landscapes

Some pastoral

And many dark.

The paintings were one of many Guantanamo surprises ...

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