BUFFALO, N.Y. — Monday morning started out with a select group of students at the Buffalo Academy for the Visual and Performing Arts listening to Valentino Dixon talk about his journey. A journey that included 27-years in prison for a murder that he was eventually cleared of by the Erie County District Attorney.
Art was and remains his skill. Some will tell you he used art to draw his way out of prison. He spent time behind bars drawing golf courses and it caught the attention of the Golf Digest.
During a talk-and-draw workshop with students, students were asked questions and many opened up about how art impacts life and their future plans.
"It's nothing like being able to share your experience and give these students a different perspective, a new perspective, a different way of seeing things to inspire them to believe in themselves, even if they don't feel like they are getting the support they need," Dixon said.
Students were impressed.
"Any of us here could become anything, it's up to us on how we drive ourselves and push ourselves," Jacob Kusmierski said.
One of Dixon's high school teachers returned to see her former student.
"When I was in that 6-by-8 cell, Mrs. Smith motivated me because I didn't utilize her class the way I should have," Dixon said. "She gave me the motivation I needed in prison to be the best that I can be."
This year, Dixon plans to release a YouTube series called "Draw and Talk with Me." He'll be teaching celebrities and everyday people how to draw, while discussing social issues in America.