Art is the theory of everything.
Art objects are the historical, objectified records of human consciousness.
Art practice at its best dares to imagine life without those who cannot imagine the world without them.
Tim Blunk is a former US political prisoner who served over 13 years in some of America’s most notorious prisons for his activism in resistance to racism, US support for apartheid in South Africa, and involvement in Central America during the 1980s. His prison term included 7 years in solitary confinement in USP Marion. From his cell in Marion, he curated and organized his first exhibition – using his extensive correspondences to solicit and collect artworks from political prisoners in 17 countries from around the world. Tim appeared on the ABC television news program “20/20” in a nationally aired segment documenting the international campaign against Marion’s use of solitary confinement as a form of psychological torture. His case was recognized and documented by both Amnesty International and US Human Rights Watch.
When transferred to open population in USP Lewisburg, Tim organized the first peer-based counseling and education program in the US federal prison system about the transmission of HIV/AIDS. A self-taught musician, Tim learned jazz saxophone and formed a multicultural rock band that included a Chinese Hell’s Angel, a Puerto Rican political prisoner, a young white man from Georgia who had AIDS, and an African American former gang member from L.A. The band’s existence was a minor miracle, confronting the racial hostility and violence that permeated the prison. Their concert for the Lewisburg population was to be the last of its kind to be performed prior to the removal of all such recreational programming in the Bureau of Prisons. Tim’s first screenplay, Rock Down, is based upon this experience.
Released in 1997, after working in a factory, then doing heating and air conditioning repair, Tim was invited to work for the Puffin Foundation in New Jersey. He helped establish the Puffin Cultural Forum, a nonprofit art gallery and performance space that would be recognized by the New York Times as one of New Jersey’s best alternative spaces. He served as its director for twelve years, curating over twenty original exhibitions and performance series.
Tim has continued playing jazz music and expanded his artistic pursuits to acting, set design, screen writing, installation art, and performance art. He obtained his Master of Fine Arts degree from William Paterson University and teaches at several local colleges. With his wife and partner, Myoung Ja Lee, he is also the co-owner of Tiger Lily – a floral design business in Teaneck, New Jersey.
He is the author of The Risks Worth Taking: Poetry and Art from a Decade of Imprisonment, (Puffin Foundation Press, 1997) and editor of Hauling Up the Morning: Writings and Art by US Political Prisoners (Red Sea Press, 1990).
In Lieu of Flowers. Screenplay. (2016).
Rock Down. Screenplay. (2012).
Reverend Billy: Performance Art and the Dialectics of Walking on Water, presented at the Northeast American Culture Association conference, Philadelphia, June 2007.
Paisajes toxicos: artistas examinan el ambiente/Toxic Landscapes: Artists Examine the Environment. Exhibition catalogue. Ediciones Ponton Caribe, s.a., Havana, Cuba. (2002)
The Risks Worth Taking. A one-act play written by Timothy Blunk and adapted by Joseph Giardina, Off World Theatre. (2001; revised 2003)
“Thoughts on Class, Race, and Prison.” Alan Berkman and Timothy Blunk. Race, Class, and Gender: An Anthology. Margaret L. Andersen, Patricia Hill Collins, Eds. Wadsworth Publishing Company. 1995. Republished in Intersections: Readings in Sociology. Eds. Ralph McNeal, Jr. and Kathleen Tiemann. Pearson. (2001)
The Risks Worth Taking. Prose, poetry and artwork. (in English and Spanish.) Timothy Blunk. Puffin Foundation Ltd. Press. (1997)
Hauling Up the Morning. (A collection of prison poetry, prose and artwork) Timothy Blunk, Ray Levasseur, Eds. The Red Sea Press. (1990)
BCCSees: Faculty Show, Gallery Bergen, Bergen Community College. 2015.
Should You Ever Happen to Find Yourself in SOLITARY: Wry Fancies and Stark Realities. New York University, NY. 2012.
Weird New Jersey: The Exhibition. The Here Art Center, NYC. 2005.
The Risks Worth Taking. The Puffin Cultural Forum, 1998.
Justice/Injustice. The Puffin Room, NYC. 1997.
Art Against Death: Political Prisoners Unite against the Death Penalty. 1995 – 2000. Traveling exhibition: Europe and the United States.
Theatrical Set Design:
Billy Bishop. Garage Theater Group. Black Box Theater, Fairleigh Dickinson University, Teaneck, NJ.
1984. Off World Theater. Puffin Cultural Forum.
Earth, God, America, and Man. Off World Theater. Puffin Cultural Forum.
Secrets of the Tattoo Gods. Off World Theater. Puffin Cultural Forum.
Countdown (with Gina Miccinilli.) Off World Theater. Puffin Cultural Forum.
The Song of the Cicada. A short film by Richard Robinson. (2013)
Earth, God, America and Man. Off World Theater. Puffin Cultural Forum.
Risks Worth Taking. Off World Theater, The Zipper Theater, NYC.
Master of Fine Arts, William Paterson University, January 2011.
Postgraduate work: University of Kansas (MA program, political economy, 1985); Bergen Community College (pre-medical studies, 2001).
Bachelor of Arts, Hampshire College, 1980.