CIW DAY 6: Excerpts from Transcript

Class met in the auditorium as there were some scheduling conflicts in the Old Chapel. There were ten participants already waiting inside for the instruction team. The crafts that had already been created were passed out and tables were once again broken into stations: Rocks, Shoes, fairies/dreamland, city/cell, hot air balloon, and writing.

 

At this point there were 18-20 participants in the auditorium. After the tables were defined, Zeina gave a short talk about how we are so close to finishing the project. 

She asked the participants to move around and spend a little time in each station if they were comfortable doing this. If someone had knowledge in a certain craft, they could help teach others. She also let the group know about the ongoing creation of a collaborative poem. The participants went to each station, three working on shoes, six at the fairy table, three at the rocks station, one at the writing table, two at the cell/city, and one working on the hot air balloon. There were a few more still finding their place.  

 

After the stations had been defined and participants were seated, a material count and supply distribution began. There was no colored paint, so Ronnie went to the Old Chapel and procured three bottles for use. She brought the primary colors: red, yellow, and blue, so the participants could mix the acrylic colors to make three more secondary colors. Yarn was distributed to the hot air balloon as they were going to start crafting the ropes or lines that attached the balloon to the basket. They were having difficulty working on the balloon portion because it was crumpling down or deflating and decided to hang the balloon upside down from a pole which allowed the balloon to "inflate" and stay in this position so they could finish the work. They tried to finalize the attachment point for where the yarn would go.  

 

At the rocks table, participants were talking about how they wanted to create shiny rocks like crystals. "What are those rocks called with the crystals?" "Geodes!" "Yeah, I used to love collecting rocks and try to break those open." Two of the participants went outside the auditorium (with permission from the guards) and gathered more rocks to use for the project. They returned shortly with another 10-15 rocks which were washed and cleaned in the bathroom. The participants handed out the rocks and everyone had a pile to work with at the table. 

 

Gregoria brought her three poems which were in the final stages of creation and proofreading.  She decided to use the poem "Walking" as an introduction and welcome for the exhibit.  This poem would create the feeling of walking in another person's shoes long before the guests saw the crafted shoes the participants made. She also wanted to finalize her other two poems "Smooth Crow" and "Giving Back." Gregoria thought it would be best to attach the poem to a wall or something and have a static written work alongside the crafted city.  She wanted to read "Smooth Crow" aloud, so she would brainstorm some ideas on how this could fit in to the overall project.

 

The hot air balloon is getting decorated with colored paper now. The participants are standing around the table tearing tissue paper strips. One is gluing the strips on the white papered "skeleton" of the balloon. A light blue-green color is used and setoff with purple highlights. On the blue and purple tissue paper, green glittered paint is applied. This gives a metallic and solid look to the balloon. There is obvious excitement as the balloon is really coming together.

 

Kami creating some "grass" for the city. She was trying to tear little pieces of yellow paper to glue on some green paper to simulate a lawn but was not happy with how the first attempt looked, so she would try a different approach. She also had also made a beach and more buildings that she would bring next time. She had also created a "golden bridge" from cardboard and paper. This bridge was almost three feet long and arched. It would connect the city to the beach once she had all the pieces ready.

 

Zeina is working at multiple tables and controlling the materials inventory. Marlynn is helping the participants at the fairy table. Ashley was teaching at the hot air balloon table. 

 

Five more lines were added to the collaborative poem. The participants who had not contributed were asked to participate and the poem was beginning to look like a finished project. There were over 20 participants that added lines to the poem. The finalized poem would be typed and printed for the final exhibit. This copy could be read aloud or passed out for reading. The participants were engaged and really enjoyed the process. There was a hesitation to write complete poetic works, but they were eager to add a few lines. This collaborative poem gave a chance for the shy and quiet voices to be heard.  When the participants were adding their lines to the poem, one of them said My body is confined as long as I'm here, so I am going to make prison what I want it to be.

 

At the fairy and dream world table, Debra was braiding a length of yarn for a colored belt that could be used in a spoken word or performance. Inez was here creating roses from paper. Another participant was finishing her mobile. She was proud of this mobile and said, "This is the first art that I really tried hard on."  This mobile was almost four to five feet tall and included an ice cream cone, hello kitty, and many other images and shapes. 

 

When Zeina saw Gregoria and Oakley practicing the reading, she thought it would be a good idea to create a paper microphone to give the speakers of poetry a prop and also influence them or remind them to speak loud enough for the guests to hear. The finished microphone was a hit and everyone seemed to like it. The paint and glue were still drying but it would be used Friday and in the exhibit. 

 

Many things were finished or close to finished today. The collaborative poem had all the lines added and individual poems were proofread and ready for the exhibit. More new styles of shoes and sandals were created. Several more rocks were finished including a new style with little "labels". There was a new mobile made with folded construction paper and the hot air balloon looked like it would be ready for the lines to be attached on Friday. The instructors gathered all materials and everything was returned and cleaned properly. Before the participants left, they were reminded that the final exhibit was only a week away and to prepare for this.  

 

As the person taking notes, I ended up working with the writers. Today, I spent time with Gregoria as she read her poems aloud. We talked about how to animate her speaking by moving her hands or making gestures. By the third reading, she had grasped these concepts and really started bringing life to her words. Her voice was still a little quiet so she would practice this further. She said she could read her poem to a group of almost 20 women after the class. She understood the importance of volume and looked forward to practicing.

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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