Herman “Shorty” Rose

When I was in jail in my twenties, a white dude on death row taught me how to make frames and even dresses, lampshades and rugs, out of cigarette packs. Now, I also make crosses and boxes. I do my own style.

I use any kind of paper and plastic garbage bags and tape. I sew the frames together with string and a needle I made from a piece of plastic. Glue would mess up the pictures. I pick pictures that I think go well with the frames, and I coat them with clear tape so they last. Making frames lets my mind set on one thing. It keeps me out of trouble.

In about 1998, my sister Annabelle introduced me to the soup kitchen where I helped frame pictures by some of the artists there. Then, those artists and I started getting together once a week at the soup kitchen to do art. When the art was hung up in the main dining room, people wanted to buy it, and that’s when we started the artists’ cooperative named the “A-TEAM Artists of Trenton.”

A few years later, I began to paint and draw pictures when someone told me I could do more than I thought I could do. Now, I can’t stop doing what I do – all kinds of stuff. Sometimes put paint on glass and make prints from it. I learned that these are called monotypes. I also still make my frames and boxes.

By the grace of God, I’m gonna keep doing my art ‘til I can’t do it no more. When I’m doing art, I feel perfect.

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