Jeffrey Isom

Artist Statement

My name is Jeffrey Allen Isom. I am a third striker doing life at San Quentin state prison. In my art I wish to give back to my victims or anyone I ever affected by my criminal behavior, and change perceptions about how people view incarcerated persons.

When I was a child, my mother Peggy would make little drawings, even while talking on the phone, which had a profound influence on me as an artist. That is the inspiration for my landscapes and nature portrayals. I’m captivated by the classical realism of artists like Rembrandt. I enjoy showing what I’ve learned, using color to achieve similar effects as in a black and white tonal scale. I like to work in oils, first creating an underpainting in orange hue acrylic, like the Old Dutch masters. I’m also inspired by Southwestern art.

I design my art around things I am passionate about. I care for the generations of those who follow me, so I create work that addresses climate change. I sincerely want to make a difference through my art. I care deeply about racism and how Asians are being attacked and even sometimes murdered due to the ignorance and hate of those who think they are the reason for bringing the pandemic on them. I reflect a political view and demonstrate the injustice in our own prison system. I do these things because I care about them and want to honor all the people I have affected negatively in my life with hopes to give back to the community in a positive way. 

Artist Bio

Jeff A. Isom was born in San Jose, CA, but raised in Coon Rapids, a suburb of Minneapolis, MN. Jeff is in the 20th year of a life sentence under California’s Three Strikes Law. While serving his sentence in San Quentin State Prison, he seeks to make living amends through his art. Jeff’s art has been featured at Marin Civic Center Bartolini Gallery, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals U.S. Courthouse, Eloise Pickard Smith Gallery, Santa Cruz, Marin County Fair, NIAD Annex Gallery, Richmond, California, Peace Flag Project, Public Policy Institute of California, San Francisco, San Francisco Airport Terminal, San Francisco Opera House Museum, Southern Poverty Law Center, University of Derby, England. He has contributed work to organizations such as Breast Cancer Awareness and the Southern Poverty Law Center and is looking to donate to other organizations. 

In 2022, Jeffrey won the Sheridan Prize for Art, winner overall, Incarcerated Artists category, for his Endangered Wood Stork painting. His work was featured in the "Return to Sender: Prison as Censorship" exhibition at EFA Gallery in New York in 2023. Jeffrey also participated in the Urban Arts Festival in the Bay Area in 2023 and 2024. In 2024, his art was displayed on a digital billboard for Legal Services for Prisoners with Children in California.

Read more about Jeffrey’s work: San Quentin News, Isom finds relief at the tip of his brush.

Contact Information

Jeffrey Allen Isom (V-60086) 

San Quentin State Prison  2-A-11U 

San Quentin, CA 94974

email via:

California | SQSP

Artwork Detail: Manifesto, C.K. Gerhartsreiter AKA TAFKA Clark Rockefeller, 2022