Brush With the Law uses the visual arts in community-based beautification projects throughout the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Projects are led by professional artists who create together with college students, socially marginalized populations (such as the homeless, incarcerated, probation, those in recovery or struggling with addiction), people assigned community service hours and volunteers from the community/neighborhoods we work in to create public art.
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Maria Maneos is an artist and the founder of Brush With the Law. She first was acquainted with the harsh realities of incarceration in the U.S. when her son’s unlikely addiction to heroin inevitably led to his arrest, conviction and sentencing to prison for a non-violent offense.
Visiting him in jail brought to light the lack of—and for the most part nonexistent—rehabilitative programming. These programs are absent within most of our country’s overcrowded and overburdened prison system. Her son’s experiences shattered Maria’s illusions concerning the rehabilitative goals enshrined in the charter of correctional institutions. She soon learned that the inmates for the majority of the day have few emotional, educational, or social outlets. These are needed to help alleviate, and lessen feelings of self-defeat, depression, and cynicism. All of which ultimately further entraps them in a cycle of crime and drug addiction.