CIW DAY 4: Excerpts from Transcript

Participants arrive smiling and carrying crafts and materials to be used for the day. Inez brought slippers she had created from paper. Porshe brought a large trash bag to be blown up for the balloon.

 

The groups from the previous day continued: Fairy / dreamland, city/cell, shoes, and rocks.

In the shoe section, the participants were teaching each other how to create laces from pipe cleaners.

The hot air balloon basket took shape. Paper-rolled structures were created to support the basket inside.

Porshe and the other participants were using mod podge glue to cover the basket of the balloon.

This would create a firm and glossy coating that would be decorative and supportive.

 

At 12:30 p.m. Annie, Phung, and Diane came, and we formed a large circle with chairs for group planning time. Annie spoke about how we could make sure everyone would be included in the project. “How can we work together to make this all come together as one?” Some comments included:

    "Choose your words wisely."  

    "Kindness has the ripple effect, like a rock into a still pond." 

    "Being kind to others heals yourself."

 

Phung explained that she would be leading the group through an erasure poetry exercise.

Diane explained her website, how it was developing, and that process. After this, instructors and participants each shared three words to explain their feelings about the project so far. The words were: 

 

“positive”

“curious”

“grateful”

“hope”

“relaxing”

“breathe”

“different”

“interesting”

“innovative”

“happy”

“hopeful”

“inspired” 

“love”

“belonging”

“free”

“calm”

“grateful for art”

“learning experience”

“open”

"surprised

 

These words were not forced; they seemed to flow freely from the group.

 

Gregoria said she wanted to share her poem about the ants, titled, "Walking".  This poem excited the participants and many had a gleam in their eyes when it was read.  You could feel the motivation spreading among. Gregoria's poem led one participant to share, 

"We are all like ants, building a new city together." 

Someone remembered and re-shared what Phung had told us, "Many in body, but one in mind." A participant exclaimed that, 

"experiencing everything as a group is how it should be."

 

Phung began her exercise with erasure poetry. Each participant would cross out words very quickly and then take a little more time to cross out key words to make a poetic style verse from the remaining words. Each participant and instructor read their poem. Everyone was eager to hear each other's poems. Participants encouraged shy members to read. After each poem was read, a mumble of excitement followed, "Ooh I like that!” "That was so good!”

 

A new group was created, the spoken word, poem, writing group. 

For the rest of the session, participants continued the work on the creations. 

At the shoe creation area, Inez was busy making more slippers/sandals.  

One of the participants was using an old road map as paper for her shoes.

    "That is cool because it shows the shoes are like traveling shoes."

    "Yeah, you can see where they have been."

Kami and the rest of the participants in the city / cell section were busy painting the cell different dark colors. "We want to show how dark the cells are; though they are really painted white, we want the dark paint to show how it feels."

 

We started cleaning up and someone suggested that we make a road to connect the parts of the city. Instructors Melissa and Katherine would work on this. This would provide a path for visitors. It could be made of large paper and decorated. The rocks and shoes could be placed along the path as visitors walk through the exhibit. The main focus given to the participants was that of a collaborative idea to bring all the fragments together. Annie asked everyone to, “Begin thinking about ways to bring this all together.”

When asked why this type of project is important, one of the participants responded, “It is important because it takes so much time and patience."

 

To further the poems or written works, I asked for some ideas on the subject. One participant said that, “We need a poem to show that 1 person is punished on the inside, but many people are punished on the outside." She explained that an inmate might be incarcerated, but their family and friends and jobs and all that would be hurt on the outside because of the incarceration. One participant talked about committee, a meeting or hearing where an inmate would be red all of their past mistakes and crimes during incarceration. The idea was to speak about this process in hopes of change.  "I do not like to hear about all of my past mistakes and live through that stuff again. Especially when I am making changes already," adding, “I guess feeling bad about the past is part of change." I encouraged her to put this in a poetic form with hopes of a social change.

“giddy”

“on point”

“ingenious”

“expressive”

“inspired”

“excited”

“camaraderie”

“uplifted”

“moved”

“community”

“yesterday’s gone & tomorrow’s not here - it’s about today”

“amazing”

“can't wait”

“elated”

“empowered”

“organic”

“rethinking”

“teamwork.”

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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