Shared by Salon

Ive spent 14 years of my life in graterford prison. each day i spent
in there seem like the last day of my life. I committed my crime when
i was seventeen years old. I never had anyone there to guide me thru
the way. I was a product of the thing that sorrounded me. wich was
negativity. I always say I wish I could have had some one to show me
right from wrong. but it did not work out that way.I was trapped into
a system that did not have any love for me. I left children behind to
fin for themselvess. I had to watch my wife come back and forth to
graterford with my kids being humiliated by the guards.

The system will try to break your family so that in the end they will give up on
you. god willing I had a wife that could not be broke. but I witness a
lot of people’s families give up on them because they could not deal
with the pressure that the prison put them thru. It got so bad that my
own children could not sit on my lap anymore. I would cry inside,but I
could not let my family see this because at the end of the day I had
to be strong for them. it was bad enough that I left them, it would
have been even worse if they seen me cry.

So many personal things happen to my family while I was incarcerated. things that needed my
undivided attention but I could not be there to support my family. it
kind of made me bitter at first, but I knew I had to make a change if
not for me then for my kids. I could not let them repeat the same
things I been thru. So I decided to make change starting with myself.
I built myself from the ground up. I decided to reprogram myself from
the old me and make a change in someone else life. I told myself my
mistake will not be some one else mistakes if I could help it.

I followed my heart wich was art. and thru this art I found out i can
make a change and help some one. I can share my many stories to the
younger people that mural are has adopted thru there program the
guild, which I was a part of. If you ever think you have the power to
influence a child please do it in a positive way because we are
loosing are kid rapidly and quickly and I dont want to die without
saying I help someone somehow someway. My family was interrupted 14
years ago and i be dam if I let it be interrupted again. stay focus
people, you never no when your being challenge.

About Eric Okdeh

Eric Okdeh is a Philadelphia based muralist, who has been creating public art since 1998. After receiving his BFA in painting from Tyler School of Art, Eric chose to focus on mural work exclusively. Since 2002, in addition to his commissioned work, Eric has taught mural making classes to children and teens throughout the city as well as inmates at SCI Graterford Prison. The classes exist as leadership, teamwork, and skill building exercises which culminate in major mural projects. In an attempt to capture these significant community collaborations and interactions, Eric has developed this website and mural blog. The projects are journalized and documented in photographs and video clips to lend outside observers insight into the processes by which his murals come about. Eric has over 65 commissions throughout the city of Philadelphia and one in Seville, Spain. He has participated in mural projects in Tucson, Arizona and Los Angeles. His work is featured in four books about public and Mural art.
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