CIW DAY 8: Excerpts from Transcript

When the instruction team arrived, there was a circle of chairs in the center of the room and eight participants were seated. Zeina explained that we would finalize the installation today and pass out a guest list. Each participant could bring one guest from the institution. We passed a paper and the participants began to sign in and fill out the guest list.

 

Ronnie explained to us that the installation would not be able to remain overnight as planned. We would have to install it as a dry run and then remove it at the end of the day, perhaps returning earlier Friday to reinstall the exhibit. This would create some challenges but it was thoroughly explained to everyone and all were eager to begin.

Only a few pieces remained unfinished. The hot air balloon needed some work as did the city / cell.  The poems and written works were rehearsed and the rocks, shoes, and fairies were finished. It was decided that the completed items would not be passed out until the other creations were finished. The main task for the day was taking the map drawn out by Jenny and turning it in to a road for guests to walk down.  

 

Marlynn was working with a small group of participants in the hot air balloon area. They were standing around the table trying to weave the yarn that held the basket to the balloon, up through the top of the balloon to create a loop for hanging. 

 

Zeina and Melissa were helping a group to set up the road, rolling out long sheets of paper, almost 20 feet long and 4 feet wide strips for the main path. There were colored paper cobblestones that we had cut out and brought with us that would be glued to the path with glue sticks. Everyone took off their shoes so as not to dirty the white colored path they were creating.  

 

All of the written works had been completed and proofread and rehearsed. It was decided and finalized that Gregoria would read "Walking" at the entrance of the installation, Amber would read "Never Ending Sentence" at the cell, Rebekkah would read "Giving Back" at the city, and Mingo would close out the installation with "Lily of the Valley" the collaborative poem at the hot air balloon. If one of these participants would not be there Friday, a participant Miranda said she would substitute and do the reading for them. 

 

The hot air balloon is finished! Porshe was excited and circling the balloon, examining every inch. Several colorful strips of tissue paper were glued on the outside of the balloon and it created a multicolored paper sphere that supported itself and a hanging basket below. The colored yarn "ropes" were attached to the basket as well. This same yarn was used as a hanger to attach the balloon to the ceiling.  

 

The participants were smiling and laughing around the balloon. Porshe and Marlynn had stuffed the center of the balloon with torn/shredded red and orange paper. This gave a realistic effect of fire coming out of the balloon.  They hung the balloon from the ceiling where it would be during the final installation.  

 

Melissa and her group of participants had finished the road. They created a paper road covered with cobblestones made of cut construction paper.  There were several more cobblestones added that were made from torn paper due to the fact that there were no scissors. This gave an interesting look as some cobblestones were smoothly cut and some had rough edges.  

     "See the road is a giant heart."  

     "Oh my, I didn't see that."  

The path was indeed a heart shaped road.  

 

All the participants and instructors gathered to finish the road. The cell would be at the apex of the heart and the city and hot air balloon would be at the widest parts. All along the edges would be the shoes and rocks and the fairies and the hot air balloon would be hanging from the ceiling. The readers of poetry would be at their respective places and Debra agreed to be a part of the installation as a "live exhibit". She would be inside the installation dressed as a Goddess or fairy and use creations she made like a magic wand and crown. 

 

At this time many participants were adding shoes and rocks to the road. Placing each rock and shoe took a lot of time. Mingo and Melissa were making rainbows that could be placed on the floor along the path. These rainbows were colored construction paper, that ingeniously hid the torn seams of the road when it came together.  

 

The installation was completed. The road was laid out and decorated, all the rocks and shoes displayed.  The hot air balloon was soaring high above the installation as well as the fairies and butterflies.  The busy city was standing tall and the lonely isolated cell was at the crest of the road.  

 

With everything in place, we did a few dry runs or rehearsals before we had to remove everything for the day. The readers were in their places and Debra had taken her place inside the installation.  The paper microphone would be passed around from one speaker to another to signal each speaker when it was their time to perform. After this reading, the participants gathered at the top of the heart shaped path and all together help hands and bowed. There was time for one more rehearsal before the long clean up would begin. 

 

After the last rehearsal, Zeina gave a small talk to the group about how we had to clean up everything and then place it back in the morning.  She asked that everyone be prepared and bring everything that was promised to be in the show. Once again, the guest list was passed around for any other participants who might not have had the chance to sign up their friends. The readers said they would practice rehearsing aloud their poetry. Debra would be wearing her pink dress in full decoration.

 

The cleanup process began. The road was rolled up with the cobblestones still attached. There were about 4-5 of these rolls that could be easily unrolled in the morning for a quick installation setup. The rocks and shoes were all placed back in tubs for the next day. All of the hanging items were removed and placed in bins for the next day. The only thing undecided would be the chairs and how they would be placed. There was no accurate estimate of the number of guests and participants that would show up. The panel and guest seating would be figured out on Friday. Every minute of the day was used and with a great sigh of relief the class was dismissed for the day.  All of the participants were excited and many were talking about bringing their friends to see the art. The installation was less than 24 hours away.

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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