John Costi Analysis

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Georgia Little in interview with John Costi for unit eight.

“Art has rehabilitative powers”

Speaking from personal experiences, Central Saint Martin’s student John Costi, explains how art explains how art can breed hope in negative environments and help shape the attitudes of people. John attended prison for two and a half years for robbery, and after embracing his artistic vision, he is now project manager for Art Against Knives, a charity born from the stabbing of a central saint martins student Oliver Hemsley.

“I didn’t really go to school,” says john bluntly. Previous to prison, the Central Saint Martin’s Student had no interest in education and spent the majority of his teens involved in petty crime. His only major outlet of
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John had calculated that he spent 12% of his life behind bars and admits that it is inescapable that the proportion of time has had an impact on his fine art practice and studies. Previously he has included prison soap toothpaste and letters within his work. ‘Broken Inglish’, is his latest piece, an installation of brightly painted cigarette butts, is inspired by his observations of the characters within his prison environment. The vibrant colours used to mask the deadly identity of the cigarette ends was a response to the seemingly innocent and friendly inmates who had been imprisoned for horrific and awful crimes. “The job of an artists is not dissimilar to a social worker; to look at the word around him and regurgitate it in their own way.” Art against knives share this idea of art being a form of social work, by helping young people express their own views of the community around them, by provide resources for young people to design, create and sustain their own physical space. This involves dance workshops, Fashion workshops, and graffiti workshops which john runs throughout Dalston, Tower Hamlets and
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