“CBA breaks down elitist notions of who can study or make art and make it equal for everyone. The fact that I can make art accessible and relatable to everyone regardless of who they are makes teaching feel like an activist effort.”
—Jessica Agustin, CSUSB, 2017, Teaching Artist
Community-based Art was founded by artist, writer, and CSUSB professor Annie Buckley in collaboration with many of her students, alumni, and artist volunteers in 2013. This initiative is founded on the philosophy and practices of socially engaged art and community activism. Its oversight, development, and organizational structure are consistently influenced by principles of mutuality and collaboration and support rehabilitation and restorative justice.
In 2012, Buckley taught the first session of Art and Community, a Service Learning class, in the Department of Art. Students and community partners responded with enthusiasm and the class has been offered every spring since that time. In early 2013, the California Institution for Men, a state prison in Chino, approached the Department of Art and California State University, San Bernardino, about an art program. Buckley gathered a group of interested students and faculty to visit. The group was impressed by the deep curiosity and hunger to of the inmates as well as the institution’s eagerness to support an art program. On this visit, they met prison administration and inmates dedicated to art. This visit resulted in an 8-week pilot that was so well received that we have continued to offer weekly classes at CIM since then.
In the summer of 2015, CBA received a Summer Research Grant from the CSUSB Office of Student Research (OSR) and an Innovative Programming Grant from California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). The first allowed us to, respectively, start a weekly program at the CA Institution for Women (CIW) in Chino and to expand our work to the CA Prison, Los Angeles County (LAC) in Lancaster. In spring 2016, CBA received a Community-based Research Grant from the CSUSB Office of Community Engagement for a gallery exhibition of work from the program. In July 2016, we received a significant contract from the CA Arts Council for a Demonstration Project in Arts in Corrections to continue our work and expand it to additional yards and sites.
CBA continues to facilitate ongoing arts programing in four state prisons and with several community partners. Each of us is grateful to have the opportunity to do what we love and to learn with and from our participants and partners in this collaborative project.