CIW DAY 5: Excerpts from Transcript

When the instructors arrive, 8-10 participants are waiting in the Old Chapel and ready to create art. 

The room is arranged for a teamwork style session with five stations:

Dream world, City/Cell, Hot Air balloon, words/poetry, and shoes/rocks. 

 

Each station is identified by a colorful painted label created by Melissa. Participants help the instructors set up each table with chairs. 

At the hot air balloon station, Melissa is working with three participants to roll paper into structural "posts" or "rods" to support the base and cordage of the balloon. They are using tape to attach the posts to the basket. "Glue is just not going to hold it up." They quietly arrange posts inside the balloon's interior. 

 

The City/Cell area was teeming with activity. Brandi was standing up and painting the cell to change its color. "The blue color didn't seem right, so I am changing it to more grey." Kami brought in a building or tower that looks similar to a skyscraper. It is also a miniature piece, similar to the three-dimensional cell. There are a few more cardboard structures that will be painted and made into more city structures.  The five participants each had a separate task and concentrated on one structure each.

 

Giggles and laughter came from the dreamland station. Debra has created a three dimensional fairy from folded and rolled paper with yellow yarn for hair, pipe cleaner wings, and legs transformed in to a mermaid tail. Marlynn brought glitter to add glitter to the fairies and someone says, "We want them to look beautiful!" Another participant is putting the final touch on her mobile to hang from the ceiling. It is created of paper and has a big Hello Kitty at the top, a radiant sun in the middle, and an ice cream cone at the bottom. Each of these are made from torn-colored construction paper and glued together.  

 

At the rocks and shoes area, five participants divided in to two small sections, for rocks and shoes. The tables are pushed together and one area is using glue and paper while the other area is using the rocks with paint. There are three participants at the rock table and three working on shoes.  Inez brought paper sandals/slippers that she had created on her own time.  She has made almost 10 different and unique sandals. Inez's sandals inspired Valerie to make some flip-flops in her own time.  

 

At the writing area, Gregoria has not arrived so the others work on a collaborative poem. Each participant writes only 1-2 lines but can only read one previous line before writing their additions. This creates a growing poem that will extend from each new line. Throughout the day, 13 participants engaged in this poem.  

 

Back at the rock station, Zeina brings more paint. There are more than 25 individual rocks on the table now. A majority of them are finished or drying and everyone is busy painting the others. At the shoe station, Valerie is writing messages on the flip flops that she created. The other participants are making sandal style shoes as well, with an open toe and complete with paper buckles. Inez has really inspired this group with the sandals.  

 

Melissa is working with the participants on the balloon portion of the hot air balloon. Everyone decided on a trash bag that will be inflated. After the inflated bag was tied around the bottom, large strips of paper were glued to the bag to give it more support and provide a place for decoration. Jessica and Melissa are pasting these strips to the bag and say that they are, "hoping it will stay inflated."

 

Time passed quickly and everyone seemed on task and engaged in the project. Smiles were everywhere and the participants asked frequently about the final date of the exhibition. Most were surprised to hear it would be in just a couple weeks. They said they forgot or couldn't believe it came so fast. All of the materials were counted for and returned in good condition and participants stayed for the entirety of the class and helped with the clean-up. 

 

When Gregoria showed up with her poems, I worked with her to proofread "Walking," "Smooth Crow," and "The Day After." While we were working on "Smooth Crow," another participant joined the writing table.  She was working on the hot air balloon but thought she would make a better contribution to the writing portion of the project. Her poem was going to describe the journey a prisoner takes during incarceration. She started a rough draft and said she wanted to work on it during her own time so she could think about it more and perfect it. I talked with Gregoria about some different ways of reading her poem, such as accenting certain words, raising or lowering her volume, and giving pauses of different lengths. This would bring life to the poem and Gregoria said she would work on it during the week.

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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