CIM DAY 3: Excerpts from Transcript

9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

 

Annie introduces Peter again and Ashley (photo intern) as well as guest Diane, a yoga instructor and designer. Peter lets class know that he and Ashley will be taking photos during the class. Class introduces themselves to Diane.

 

Annie asks everyone to share a few words regarding how we feel about the project so far. The responses follow:

 

Stan: “Excited, frustrated”                     

Johnny: “Enthusiastic”                          

Duane: “Anxious, expecting.                 

Christina: “Nervous but excited”           

Brett: “Anxious”

Ezekial: “Excited”

Diego: “Curious”

 

Annie discusses some of the common words, such as anxious and words synonymous to nervous. She asks the class to make sure to relax and take a breath and have fun. She reminds them that it is ok to be nervous and assures that project will come together, that it does not have to be perfect but “representative of ourselves.

 

 “Can someone summarize the project as of now? We are going to create a map of what we need to do before the final presentation.”

 

Lyle: “We will have an installation of a path leading to the performance our them will revolve around the idea of transformation. [describes vine/word walkway and shadow screen puppet performance, the performance revolves around song that Johnny wrote].

 

Annie: “It is ambitious - are we up to the challenge or do we need to edit?

 

Ezekiel and Lee ask about the timeframe. We have 2 hours from 9:30AM-11:30. The group decides to try and keep performance part around 15 minutes so rest of time can be for discussion and celebration.

 

Phung discusses idea of using a symbol instead of CDCR info for the placard idea.

 

Annie: “Other thoughts on the placard?”

 

The group discusses possibilities for the placard. 

 “Can it just be blank? I am wearing blue so it will be obvious who I was before our different talents and interests will separate us as individuals.”

 

Annie: “It is important to remember the whole picture, wearing your uniform in the performance adds another layer of context.”

 

 Duane: “We could do a yellow silhouette on a blue background.”

 

Ezekiel: “Blank piece of paper in the front will be more impactful, will allow for it to be more open to interpretation for the viewer.”

 

 “Some viewers may be confused, we can have everyone face back to the audience with CDCR showing and then turn around to show personalized part.”

 

Annie: “The back of the placard is up to you. You can do whatever you want to do to show yourself as a transformed individual.”

 

Class takes a vote to finalize placard idea and the majority vote is that participants will show back of their uniform and then turn around to show card with chosen words on one side and personalized side on flip side. Size of placard was decided to be 11 by 14.

 

Annie: “Now we need to talk about the narrative and the set.”

 

- Brett: “The original performance was light and shadow plus live actors.”

- Lee: “The timing in syncing up all the performers seems to be difficult to achieve.”

 

4 actors and 2 musicians are going to participate in the performance.

 

There is discussion among group regarding performance and the class votes to scrap any sort of paper puppet due to time constraints. Instead, live actors will be used and the performance team will have a rough draft/run through next week.

 

Discussion on the installation and set design: Stan shows examples of words he and others have made for the vine installation. It looks like instead of hanging them from somewhere in the gym, they will use the easy up to suspend them. 

 

Phung talks about an exercise we will do called erasure poetry. Participants are given text where they can cross out words to create a poem, the text is excerpts from a story titled Ramakien. It’s the same story from Phung’s presentation on Thai shadow puppets.

 

Everyone, including the teaching team, works on their erasure poems and seem to be enjoying the assignment. Everyone shares their poem with the group.

 

The day ends with another round of words on how the group feels about the project now and the responses are positive: excited, enthusiastic, happy, and one, still nervous.

12:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

 

Christina asks about possible invitation designs, reviews the project outline, and reminds participants of the July 14th deadline for placards and narrative draft.

 

Annie shows class different types of scrapbooking paper she brought for the class that they can use for invitations or even for the words for the installation.

 

For the word installation, the group votes and decides that the positive words will be made with more lively colors while the negative words will be darker, not as bright.

 

The rest of the afternoon is dedicated to work time. Lyle and Johnny are practicing the song that is going to be performed, “Redemption,” written by Johnny. George, Angel, and Brett are leading the narrative/story writing team and continue to interview each participant. Some of the questions are: “Describe yourself before your own transformation. What was your wake-up call? Describe yourself after your transformation. Others are creating words for the installation out of construction paper and cardboard.

 

Today the group achieved a lot and now has a solid outline of what the project is going to be. The work they want to do is ambitious, I will admit, but like Annie said, if they feel that they can do it, and they want to do it, then we will support them and help out the best we can so that they achieve the full project. I did not really get any quotes or dialogue for the second half because I found myself helping with creating the words and having some pleasant conversations about art with the participants. Duane was showing me how he was constructing a word for the hanging art installation which was extremely impressive, I told him he was using a technique that was basically identical to slab building used in ceramics. He had never heard of slab building before but wanted to learn more about it, and he went on to tell me about how he had been interested in contemporary art after learning about performance art in a previous class. He cited Chris Burden, which surprised me, and he told me that he likes to learn about what is going on in art today, and how thankful he is for these classes, CSUSB, and the Prison Arts Collective project, and that he is looking forward to future classes. It was a touching moment for me. Many of the participants have let me know about how happy they are that the program is introducing them to fields of art they did not know existed. Many are looking up art and artists on their own time. It makes me really wonder about how art in corrections affects recidivism……Back to the project though, the words impressive, they are 3-D and large! I was expecting them to be drawn on paper and cut out but the participants went all out; it shows their dedication and how determined they are to show something impressive for the opening. 

Robert: “Collaborative”

George: “Nervous, excited”

Lyle: “I feel the time constraints”

Lee: “Ready to go”

Phung: “Inspired”

Annie: “excited and curious”

Diane: “Interested and curious”

This project is generously funded by a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works Grant in the category of Multidisciplinary and Presenting — Additional support comes from Arts in Corrections, an initiative of the California Arts Council and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. This project would not be possible without the support of the Department of Art, the College of Arts and Letters, and Research and Sponsored Programs at CSUSB. Accounts and administrative services were provided by the University Enterprises Corporation in association with CSUSB

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The Prison Arts Collective works to expand access to the transformative power of the arts through collaboration and mutual learning that supports the development of self-expression, reflection, communication, and empathy through providing multidisciplinary arts programming in correctional institutions.

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