About Us

About Artwork Initiative (AI)

The idea for Artwork Initiative (AI) started back in 2020 and was accelerated when Lamavis Commundowilla had a chance meeting with Governor Newsom (in 2023) about the “California model” transformation of San Quentin prison into a rehabilitation center. Being from Compton, California Lamavis learned early on how to survive and look at people in the light of who they were. As he became an artist, this led to him looking at the talent of others from this unique perspective. This also urged Lamavis to found and create AI as a community with the help of many others. since there did not exist such a platform for prison to employment for artists or at-risk youth. Newsom, hearing these concerns and ideas introduced Lamavis to his advisor Chris Applegate, who suggested “don’t just think of the questions, but also think of the answers”. Thus, AI was born as a first of a kind platform that represents any and all prison talent and related community.”

AJ at Musicambia Credit


Our Story

Welcome to Artwork Initiative (AI), a groundbreaking platform that emerged from a powerful idea and a commitment to transforming lives through art. Our journey began in 2020 when Lamavis Commundowilla, a visionary artist from Compton, California, envisioned a unique space where prison talent could thrive and at-risk youth could find a path to employment.

Lamavis Commundowilla

Lamavis, a Compton native, developed a keen understanding of survival and the ability to see individuals for who they truly are. As an artist, this perspective ignited his passion for recognizing and nurturing talent within the prison community. The catalyst for AI’s creation occurred in 2023 when Lamavis had a serendipitous encounter with Governor Newsom, discussing the transformative “California model” for San Quentin prison.

Lamavis Comundoiwilla
Gov.-Newsom credit (Martin do Nascimento/CalMatters)

From Conversation to Creation

Governor Newsom, inspired by Lamavis’ vision, connected him with advisor Chris Applegate. Chris emphasized the importance of not only identifying challenges but also crafting innovative solutions. This pivotal advice led to the birth of Artwork Initiative (AI) – a pioneering platform committed to showcasing prison talent and fostering community engagement.

AI: A Platform for Change

Artwork Initiative is not just a platform; it’s a movement that bridges the gap between prison talent and the broader community. We believe in the power of art to transform lives, and AI stands as a testament to the untapped potential within the prison system. Our platform is the first of its kind, dedicated to representing all forms of prison talent and building a supportive community around it.

Our Mission

At AI, we are on a mission to redefine narratives and provide opportunities for artists within the prison community. Through collaboration and empowerment, we strive to break down barriers, foster creativity, and create pathways for at-risk youth to find employment within the realm of art.

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Join us in this transformative journey as we showcase the extraordinary talent within the prison system and work towards building a more inclusive and supportive community through the power of art. Artwork Initiative is not just a platform; it’s a beacon of hope, creativity, and change.

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Tammy Secretary for AI