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M Winston is an incarcerated artist within the Wisconsin Department of Corrections system, with six years remaining on his sentence. Winston, 55, has made drawings and paintings since he was a child in Mississippi.

As a form of meditation, Winston makes tiny paintings, most no larger than 2 by 2.5 inches. Part of the reason for the small scale is that if an inmate makes anything larger than 8 x 10 inches, it cannot be kept in their cell. The paintings are abstract but allude to places all over the world, providing a way for Winston to translate what he is thinking and imagining, while expanding his prison life exponentially. In these paintings, Winston travels freely. 

“I store five to seven paintings in my head every day,” he said, “My way of painting small helps me make room for what’s to come.”


M. Winston has for a number of years participated in Buddhist study groups that are offered at prisons around the state by Buddhist teachers in a program coordinated by Tonen O’Connor of the Milwaukee Zen Center.


“Art is what I feel. It is deep in my soul: It’s my Enlightenment and part of my Nirvana.”


Proceeds from the sale of his work go into a savings account that he can access upon his release. 

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