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Murals at Texas Prison Helped Artist Inmate Prep For Freedom

Murals located around the Cleveland Correctional Center help to brighten the atmosphere and provide a more positive outlook thanks to former inmate Anthony Rose.

The Houston Chronicle reports Rose, 29, is a former inmate of Cleveland Correctional Center who is a graphic designer by trade and a mural artist by hobby. He is a Houston resident where he paints murals professionally for different clients.

Prior to Rose's current employment, his life took a tragic turn in November 2013. A night of fun with friends ended as Rose says he was driving drunk and became involved in a vehicular accident. Although Rose survived the accident, his passenger was killed.

"My personal mindset for the first year and a half following the accident was that of a victim," said Rose. "I was questioning why me out of all people could fall into the position that I did."

Rose says he felt an immense amount of pain knowing he is responsible for someone losing their life.

"My biggest love is my relationships with others," he said. "My relationship with people is probably one of the most important things I value so it was kind of an odd time for me because I really didn't know what was going on in my life."

His incarceration at Cleveland Correctional Center made Rose feel like his time was over. At times he says he wished he was the one who died instead of his passenger.

"I took responsibility but it was difficult for me," he said.

Six months after being sentenced to prison, Rose started to make some realizations that he was looking at the situation from a selfish standpoint and decided he needed to evaluate his life.

"It's very difficult to be in that situation where the intentions were just to have a night of entertainment, fun and enjoyment and then things change instantaneously," said Rose. "It changed my life."

Rose's changed outlook impacted his creativity, which he said was difficult beforehand due to what he had experienced beforehand.

Cleveland Correctional Center warden Michael Upshaw pushed Rose to engage in creativity as Rose started to go through the prison's business entrepreneurship program.

Upshaw's challenge involved creating some murals around the prison.

"He wanted to make it more enjoyable for people who visit," said Rose. "The idea was that these murals would be done not for just the members at the unit but for family to enjoy. It was something that brought the families together whenever somebody was coming to visit their family in prison."

Rose created a large mural in the visitation room, which depicts a bald eagle's head near a beautiful lake and mountainside. Another bald eagle is seen flying off into the distance.

A second mural exists in the halls of Cleveland Correctional Center. The mural pays respect to first responders and the United States military while also showing respect for the lost lives in disasters such as the 9/11 terrorist attack and the recent flooding of Hurricane Harvey.

Rose's work is also seen in the prison with a painting of a diamond with the word "Integrity" written on it. The doors leading to specific rooms are also drawn artistically by Rose.

"I've really realized one major fact that's actually changed my perspective," said Rose. "That's that I've never really, I never really was passionate about art for the sake of creating art."

Rose explains that his passion was with his relationship with others.

"It was really because of my art that people really wanted to know more about me," he said. "It took a long time to realize that the reason why I love art so much is because of the relationships with people."

The sentence for Rose lasted until January 2018. He is now telling his story to others so they may avoid his fate.

"I value legacy more and I want to leave behind a better society than I was in," he said.

Upshaw says the murals have left a positive impact on Cleveland Correctional Center as visiting families find them to be a bright spot in an unfavorable situation.

"It has absolutely brightened up the visitation," said Upshaw. "Every one of them want to take a photo against a mural."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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