Community West Foundation, Bridge CLE Dedicate Public Art

“When I Was in Prison” Portrays Loneliness & Struggle

Bill and Jill Oatey with Marty and Laura Uhle, Community West Foundation.

Community West Foundation and Bridge CLE dedicated the first installation of the Matthew 25 Collection on Thursday, September 16th at the Bridge CLE location, 3389 Fulton Road in Cleveland.

The sculpture, When I Was in Prison, portrays the loneliness of people who are incarcerated and the struggles they face upon reentry into our society.

Created by Canadian artist Timothy Schmaltz, Community West is bringing the collection to Cleveland with the intention of expanding important conversation around issues of social justice, privilege, compassion and empathy.

“Our work has always been to connect people with life-giving friendships and support,” commented Jack McClelland, Director of Mission Development at Bridge CLE.

“We all find ourselves, at one time or another, living in a prison. Sometimes the prison is physical. Sometimes it’s emotional. Sometimes it’s spiritual. This statue is a moving and needed reminder of the responsibility that we all have to care for one another.”

Community West Foundation worked with local nonprofit LAND studio to design a master plan for the installation of the five sculptures throughout the community, which are to debut over the next few months. Once installed, Cleveland will be only the second city in the world, following Rome, Italy, to have the full collection of all six bronze figures in the Matthew 25 Collection.

The other upcoming installations include: Homeless Jesus, Saint Malachi Parish; When I Was Sick, Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital; When I Was a Stranger, The Refugee Response at Urban Community School; When I Was Naked, Malachi House; When I Was Hungry and Thirsty, Old Stone Church (already installed).

“This art is not only a visual representation of our mission, but it also depicts basic human rights,” commented Marty Uhle, Community West Foundation President and CEO. “We are eager to continue the conversation through this public art.”

The installation at Bridge CLE saw Community West Foundation and Community Service Alliance collaborate in bringing 33 churches together (13 on-site and 20 through prayer) to celebrate the unveiling of the “When I Was in Prison” sculpture.

Evangelical preacher David Nico Hill, Outreach Pastor at Westlake Ascent Church, then delivered a powerful message of finding freedom and forgiveness through Jesus to a gathering of hundreds of guests, many who had arrived by bus, inside the church.

At the conclusion of his message, dozens answered Pastor Hill’s altar call to accept Jesus into their lives.

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