CIW DAY 3: Excerpts from Transcript

As the participants arrived, the instruction team assigned them to groups in which they worked previously or showed interest: Shoes, Rocks, Dreamworld, and City. Supplies were handed out: colored construction paper, glue, rulers, pencils and tissue paper. 18 participants showed up with excitement and some of them did indeed bring multiple crafted items that they created on their own time. 

Brandy brought several completed rocks with messages, paint and decorations. She had painted each rock with toothpaste and allowed them to dry. She achieved a beautiful pinkish white color. "Sobriety is the key to happiness," (complete with a little key) was just one of the messages. Brandy's rocks were very inspirational and motivated the participants and instructors who viewed them. 

 

Other participants had more ideas for the rocks:

     "Bless someone with a smile today.”

     "Treat a complete stranger with compassion, even for a few moments, just maybe they'll pay it     forward."

     "Sticks and stones can break bones, but words can paralyze the spirit."

 

There were many more quotes as well as completed rocks by other participants. The rocks were a very popular area to be working. All were smiling and happy to be working on "simplistic and earthy things."

 

Meanwhile the city group worked on the miniature cell. Kami had created most of the cell on her own time, complete with a bed, lockers, and sink/toilet. The group was creating rolled barbed wire for the top of the cell. They tore off the fuzzy colored material from pipe cleaners and used the metal braid for this barbed wire. I asked about the wire on top of the cell and they told me, "This shows it is not easy to get in.” Another answered, "It is also not easy to get out!!" and several laughs were heard.

 

In the Dreamworld group, Instructor Melissa was hard at work helping create a giant hot air balloon. The group wove strips of colored construction paper together. 8 different checkerboard sheets were woven and glued together to create the basket for the hot air balloon. The participants were sharing ideas on how to create the upper balloon, such as blowing up a trash bag or paper macheing a balloon.  

 

The Shoe section was hard at work and was also a popular work station. Several participants brought in shoes drawn two dimensionally on paper. The instructors shared ideas on how to display these. The idea of three dimensional shoes was suggested and many were happily engaged in tracing their own shoes and tearing the paper around the outline. They were gluing these shoes and decorating them with paper, pipe cleaners for laces, and even some glitter they created from torn paper. Inside the shoes, little messages were written to express what it would be like to walk in these shoes. 

On a baby sized shoe, the message, "Baby steps to success" was written.

Another shoe had an inspirational message about, "stepping into the future" and "out of the past.

One said, "I walked in here and inshallah I will walk out."

 

A new participant joined the group midway. Her name was Gregoria and she had skills in poetry and writing. She brought some of her poems to the group. One was called "walking" and it was about a colony of ants and their actions after their home was engulfed by flooding waters. This poem related to the struggles that inmates must face when entering the criminal justice system.

 

Gregoria brought her poems with her. Since I was also writing, I worked with her. Her poems were very inspirational. I talked to her about how they could be incorporated in to the larger collaborative project. They could be recorded and playing aloud in a certain area of the exhibit or they could be written on small sheets of paper and placed around the exhibit for people to casually find them. Gregoria was very excited to be working on the poetic portion of this project and asked many questions on how to improve her already great writing. I worked with her on proofreading and offered assurance that these poems were perfect for this project and that we had been hoping for a poetic or spoken word addition.

 

3:00 p.m. came so quickly that no one could believe it. The creative juices had been churning and the groups came up with fantastic ideas and creations. We cleaned up and advised the groups to continue working on their own time. The day ended with an air of excitement that felt new and fresh. The project was taking shape!!

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

About Us

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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