Brazil has the third largest prison population in the world with more than 750 thousand people. In addition one in every four convicts returns to the crime. The Ponto Firme Project emerged in 2015 from a voluntary initiative by Gustavo Silvestre. It takes affection, design and aesthetics into a penitentiary and promotes social transformation through fashion and crochet for inmates and ex-prisoners. The works developed by the participants are part of the official calendar of São Paulo Fashion Week, have already been presented at the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, at SP-Art and also in New York.
GUSTAVO SILVESTRE. FASHION AND SUSTAINABILITY IN PRACTICE
Born in Recife, Gustavo Silvestre is a designer, artist, craftsman and post-graduate teacher in manual arts for education. He takes the crochet technique to the field of experimentation within the thinking of art, fashion and sustainability. Through a voluntary initiative, he takes art, affection and design into the prison, promoting social transformation through crochet.
Since very young Gustavo remembers watching the women of his family get together to open their crochet boxes, “they were real treasures that they took out of there – threads, threads and needles”. A habit he observed from afar, since he always heard that crochet was a woman’s thing. Decades later, Gustavo would prove it is not true. The artist would not only become an expert crochet artist, but he would create ‘Ponto Firme’, a social project in which he teaches crochet in one of the most male chauvinist environments in society, the prison.
Since then, Gustavo, who had already found in crochet a way to reframe his work with art, discovered that the technique could also be an educational tool, having as theoretical reference authors such as the philosophers Gilles Deleuze, Michel Foucault, illuminist Cesare Beccaria and the educator Paulo Freire.
According to the National Penitentiary Department (Depen), Brazil has the third largest prison population in the world, with prisons that are almost 70% above their capacity with more than 750,000 prisoners. In three years, the date of the last National Prison Information Survey (Infopen), the country received 61,000 more prisoners for its overcrowded jails. A majority of black people (61% of prisoners have this profile, while only 53% of the Brazilian population have this characteristic), poor and unschooled (75% of these prisoners do not have completed elementary school).
This is the reality that Gustavo Silvestre has faced weekly since he started the ‘Ponto Firme’ Project. Since 2015, the artist has volunteered technical training in crochet for inmates at the Adriano Marrey Penitentiary, in São Paulo.
In his socio-educational project, the artist looks at this wound that is incarceration revealing the humanity that resists within a system created to discipline and punish. In five years of project, the initiative that stands out for its aesthetic value has been the subject of several journalistic articles, and has already become an art exhibition at the Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo, at SP-Art, fashion show at São Paulo Fashion Week (SPFW) and even furniture for a store in SoHo, New York.
I would like to share with you the documentary movie was made about Ponto Firme, my social project. It’s a great way for you guys to know how the project was born inside a male prison here in Brazil. Nowadays, besides inmates we work as well with trans people in vulnerable situations, refugees and immigrants. This version has subtitle in english.
The documentary followed the nine months of creative process of first fashion collection developed by about 20 inmates who used crochet as the main technique. With Gustavo Silvestre encouragement as a teacher and creator of ‘Ponto Firme’ Project the participants were inspired by daily life and individual memories to crochet the clothing presented at São Paulo Fashion Week in 2018.