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Anthony Papa, 15 Years to Life

Artist, author and activist Anthony Papa sits down with Jeannie Hopper to discuss the transformative power of art, when it is good to tell a lie, and how Mike Kelley (R.I.P.) saved his life. In 1984, Papa was arrested as a first-time nonviolent drug offender and, under the harsh Rockefeller drug laws, incarcerated in Sing-Sing prison. Sentenced to 15 years to life, the artist experienced the punitive prison system first-hand and began to paint to transcend the negativity surrounding him.

After 12 years, both Anthony Papa and his work were released into the very public eye when Kelley selected “15 Years to Life – Self-Portrait” to be displayed in his exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art. From there Papa was able to share his experiences with the public, politicians, and arts communities worldwide. His novel 15 to Life: How I Painted My Way to Freedom, striking acrylic paintings, and participation in the Drug Policy Alliance has helped inform and reform major drug policies. Learn more about Anthony Papa, his activism, and his work at his website.


Clocktower Radio Profiles


The hosts of Clocktower Radio interview artists, writers, curators, producers, activists, thinkers and doers.