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A painter, sculptor, and muralist, Emanuel Martinez occupies an outstanding status among nationally known artists. Three of his artworks are in the permanent collection of the National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C.. Emanuel has won numerous awards, and participated in prestigious invitational shows. Andrew Connors, National Museum of American Art, Smithsonian Institution says this about Emanuel,” Emanuel Martinez is an artist whose art speaks to the cares, concerns and culture of us all. As an educator and community activist, Martinez has helped young people find ways to make their voices heard.” His story includes having spent some time institutionalized at a young age and discovering that his artistic talent was a way that he could express himself and make it out of his current situation. Using the charcoal from the tips of burnt matches, he would draw. He has never forgotten the benefits f his artistic talent brought him and has dedicated a great portion of his life to bringing that to other youth. Some four decades later he is still going into facilities, providing supplies and teaching firsthand the power of art in self expression.
The Emanuel Project provides art supplies and creative learning opportunities for incarcerated juveniles – engaging them in the classroom, reducing behavioral problems, and improving academic success. In addition to providing art supplies for facilities, it also provides guidance and assistance from art professionals in developing art projects for the students in the facilities. The highlight is a visit from Emanuel Martinez where he personally works with students to create a permanent wall mural at some location in the facility. Emanuel came to Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility on September 19, 2011 to begin the process of three such murals on the walls outside the cafeteria. The murals were revealed to the general public on Friday, September 30, 2011. MJCF now looks forward to the next step in the implementation of the project. A volunteer will supervise the art supplies and projects that students will be able to use in the Special needs unit and the other general population units. Students will be able to access the supplies during their leisure periods and weekends to lessen their stress levels and have another form of expression.