CIW DAY:7 Excerpts fromTranscsript

When the instruction team arrived at 11:30 a.m., the institution was on lock down and the yard had been recalled. The guards said there would be no programming and that the class may have been canceled. We proceeded to the auditorium and the doors were closed and locked. The guard there confirmed that there was no programming at the time.

 

We returned to the entrance station and decided to wait for the yard to open. After about 30 minutes, we were told that the participants would be escorted in despite the yard recall.  The instruction team headed for the auditorium again and prepared for a busy Friday.

Once inside the auditorium, the team setup the tables, chairs, and materials for the stations. The participants trickled in slowly due to the situation on the yard. Everyone began setting up chairs to hold a circular group discussion when Annie and Phung arrived.  

 

During setup, a participant asked how to create the sandals like the finished ones on the table. Valerie had created several amazing pairs of these sandals inspired by Inez. Valerie agreed to help teach the other woman how to create these paper sandals. The participants were now teaching and helping each other. There was a feeling of cooperation in the room that was not there in the prior weeks.

 

Participants keep coming in until there were more than 12 seated in the circle of chairs. Phung and Annie arrived and Phung began the group discussion by talking about the installation and asking people how they saw their part and how it would contribute to the whole. She explained that we would create a map of sorts to prepare for the installation to show where each "station" would be located.  

 

There was a verbal listing of the finished crafts the participants had created as a group.  Butterflies, flowers, shoes, rocks, hot air balloon, fairyland, clothing, mobiles, 3 poems, and the collaborative poem.

 

The idea of the "road" came up again and the group began brainstorming.  

"We could place the rocks on the road for people to see."  

"We could use torn paper left over from the hot air balloon, I don't know."  

Some participants thought the auditorium might be a better place to hold the installation due to the size and location. There was a quick vote and it was decided that the Old Chapel would remain the installation location. The auditorium did not have a low ceiling to hang many crafts from and it was noted to be hotter and louder. Jenny began creating a map of the installation with ideas taken from the participants. The idea of a branched road and a circle were both well received. The participants were then brainstorming about where each section would fit in the installation. The cell would be a good center piece perhaps. Annie's idea that the hot air balloon could be hoisted and lowered by a simple pulley / rope was received well. Porshe was smiling and oohing and ahhing as Annie shared the idea.  

 

The participants were asked to think of ideas of how the poetry could be used within the installation. One spoke about the crafted cell and said that there is, "unspoken silence, a silence of the cell" that should be described by poetry. One of the participants had a poem that would represent this called "The Never Ending Sentence".  She had it memorized and performed it for in the group. All thought it would be an excellent addition to this area. "Darkness to the light," "Reality to fantasy," her peers exclaimed.

 

More ideas were tossed around. There would also be a discussion panel to interact with the participants. Someone suggested setting up chairs at the back of the installation. The last participants that wanted to share poetry or spoken word could do it here and then the panel would take place after that.  

 

"Will there be punch and pie?" 

"Can we bring guests?"  

These were two questions that dominated minds of the group when brought up.  Annie left to talk to Ronnie about these questions. 

 

The group decided on which poems would be read at which section. The group decided that the large paper microphone would be passed from one speaker to another. The group also practiced bowing together for the installation finale. Everyone went back to their stations and continued working. 

 

Gregoria practiced reading "Walking" aloud two more times. Mercades volunteered to read the collaborative poem. She copied it so she could practice reading it in her own time.  This way, she would have a copy, and Oakley would have a copy to type up on a computer later. 

 

The hot air balloon was taking shape as the participants were tying the braided yarn ropes to the basket.  Each braid was woven with three different colors of yarn and were at least 6 feet long each. Ashley was holding one end of the yarn while a participant was affixing it to the basket. "This balloon took so many hours to create." It is obviously one of the favored pieces among the participants. The smiles and laughter heard around the piece reinforce this idea. 

 

Kami said she would bring the final pieces of the city next week. The cardboard cell looked finished, complete with barbed wire on top and a decorated locker and interior. Debra was putting the final touches on her new mobile and was very proud of it. She was dangling it in front of the fan to produce a flying action. She wanted it to look like flying butterflies. There were many new shoes including a tiny pair of baby shoes created with construction paper. One pair of sandals made of white and green paper with the words "Made in CIW" were being discussed at the table. Three participants were painting rocks until the final moments of class. They were putting the final touches on their works and adding to the great collective of decorated rocks.  There must be around 50 completed rocks at this time.  

 

Cleanup was quick and participants helped return the chairs and tables. All materials were accounted for and the completed crafts were stored for next week. The participants were given a flyer about the installation on 7-21-2017.  It was approved that each participant could bring one guest.  So in attendance would be the instruction crew, participants, their guests, CIW personnel, and other guests invited by the instructors.  

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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