How art shone through the dark

Hidden talent: De’Javon Paynter’s work is on show at the Masterworks Museum (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

As De’Javon Paynter would likely tell you, there is an upside to nearly everything.

In 2008, he was caught at New York’s JFK International Airport with two litres of cocaine he intended to bring into Bermuda, and jailed for two years.

“It was a bad decision,” De’Javon said. “My life drastically changed and I had to grow up really fast, but at Metropolitan Detention Centre, Brooklyn, I met a street artist.”

Although he had “doodled a bit”, the foil figures he made as a child were more his thing.

“I was really good with my hands,” he said. “When I was in school, I had a hard time learning by listening or reading. Even when I was looking at something, I didn’t really learn. I had to involve my hands.”

As such, the tutelage from his cellmate meant something when combined with the box of “five basic colours” of crayons the jail handed out.

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