The Prison Arts Collective facilitates weekly programs in 10 California state prisons and will expand to 12 institutions by 2020. Our multidisciplinary arts classes are led by a collaborative team of teaching artists, university students and faculty, and peer facilitators that have participated in our Arts Facilitator Training program for incarcerated individuals that want to grow as leaders and mentors. 

Programs are co-created with each site to serve the needs of each specific population. We develop our curriculum with feedback from participants, staff, and teaching artists. We offer a Foundations in Art course as well as beginning and intermediate courses in Painting, Drawing, Paper Sculpture, and Printmaking and classes in special topics including Color Theory, Patterns Around the World, Contemporary Crafts, Art History and Critique, and Art and Meditation.


Our curriculum is flexible and based on student interest and teacher expertise, but all classes include the following three elements: art history/culture, reflection, and creative practice. A great example of our method is: When we first started, one of our teaching artists was struck by how many of the participants were already practicing artists. Based on this observation, he created a class in portfolio development, similar to a graduate seminar, in which participants shared their work with others, received feedback, and formed a community of artists within the prison. This class has grown and remained a staple of our programming for experienced artists.

I have completed in excess of twenty self help groups, therapy programs, and counseling. However, the one thing that completely changed my life was learning art. Learning how to draw and paint is what gave me the strength and courage to stop using drugs. This was the pivotal point that allowed me to feel differently about myself and others.

—S. Hunter, Peer Leader and Peer Facilitator, CIM


But by being in the art program, I have learned how to paint realist and collaborative murals. Meanwhile, we go to this program and we learn how to communicate with people as well. I have met a wonderful friend that is transgender that knows how to paint, is into Manga, highly educated and beautiful inside.
—A. Vargas, Participant, CIM 

Multidisciplinary Programming is supported by Arts in Corrections, an initiative of the California Arts Council and the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), by CDCR Innovative Programming Grants, and by the National Endowment for the Arts.


“It has been an adventure with creativity at the helm. We were given options outside of our experience and comfort zone learning to experiment with new techniques.”

Participant, California Institution, Los Angeles County (LAC- A)

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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© 2020 Prison Arts Collective