Art is/I am

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.

In the DC Jail, with codefendant Dr. Alan Berkman.

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, making use of 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 there.

Good Friday, 1997. Released from USP Lewisburg. With attorney Steven Somerstein.

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 is now the director of Gallery Bergen, the art space for Bergen Community College, and an assistant professor of visual arts.

From the short film, “Song of the Cicadas.” Photo by Richard Robinson.

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