The Angola Prison Rodeo, which takes place biannually inside the Louisiana State Penitentiary, is known for wild games and dangerous sports involving angry bulls chasing prisoners dressed in striped uniforms. But outside the walls of the 10,000-seat arena is a huge arts and crafts fair with leather belts, handcrafted woodwork and bucolic paintings.
It’s this craft fair that takes a closer look in a new report from Racked.com. The story, posted online Tuesday, June 28, writer Stephie Grob Plante details her April trip to the rodeo and the conflicting sense of joy prisoners feel about having a certain sense of freedom and their own loathing of the practice. .
“It’s exploitation. It’s the Colosseum again,” said Plante, citing a prisoner named Mchawi.
As for crafts, Plante notices the “marketing strategy” of prisoners’ crafts, which focuses on positive, even joyful subjects. “Lots of bayou scenes, lots of farm life, lots of animals. Summaries of jazz, still lifes by Zatarain, bulldogs playing poker ”decorate the work, she writes.
The story also delves into the history of Louisiana as the “prison capital of the world”.