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Arts & Culture

Artists unveil mural at Vilas County Jail to inspire people in recovery

Vilas County Jail Mural
Erin Gottsacker
/
WXPR
Antonio Alvarez and David Turney painted a mural in the Vilas County Jail as part of the jail's Readiness for Recovery Program.

The concrete walls that line the hallways of the Vilas County Jail are white, which sets apart the blues and greens and yellows of a newly painted mural.

The mural shows a pair of bald eagles flying across a sunny sky. In the middle, one eagle’s white head is surrounded by a halo of indigenous leaders.

It symbolizes all of those chiefs evolved into one spirit, says Antonio Alvarez, one of the mural’s creators.

“It’s the spirit of the struggle. It’s the spirit of the battle. It’s the spirit of recovery,” he explains.

Antonio Alvarez Miskwawad and David Turney Wawasuminikee designed and painted the mural together to inspire each other and other people who go through the jail’s Readiness for Recovery program, a program designed to help people in the jail overcome addiction.

It is one of the only county jails in the state to have a rehabilitation program like this, even though the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates 65 percent of incarcerated people have substance abuse disorders and another 20 percent were using drugs or alcohol at the time they committed a crime.

For people like Alvarez and Turney, the Readiness for Recovery program is life changing.

“I left a little kid out there who I really want to get back,” Turney says. “This is helping me do it. I want to keep my road straight.”

Turney still has to serve some time at the jail, but Antonio Alverez recently got released. He’s starting a wood carving business.

Both of them hope their art will continue to help people overcome addiction.

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