I grew personally by coming out of my comfort zone to talk with people I normally do not talk to, by being more selfless and helpful with others. As an artist I grew by doing art and crafts, by writing better and talking in public
—Angel (Participant, “Redemption”)
Throughout the workshops, we initiated dialogue about the project, artwork, social issues, and the process of working on one art piece collectively. It was our goal to support and encourage while also challenging participants that have worked with our program for multiple years to advance their artistic practice by working as a group, addressing an issue of concern to the group, and engaging with multiple media. This necessitated various approaches to reflection and dialogue, including sitting and listening, hosting circle talks, working through issues that came up throughout. We were honored to work with such open, dedicated, and talented individuals at both sites and were interested in the way the projects shifted and evolved with everyone’s effort.
Because we knew that a public presentation would be a vital component of these workshops, we documented the process throughout. Those that do not go into correctional institutions might be surprised to learn that we are not allowed to bring electronic or recording equipment, such as laptops or iPads, and require ample time to gather special permissions for photography and video. As a result, all the texts that you read in this section were written out by hand, during the course of the workshops, but our Documentation Interns, Alex and Oakley. The photographs were taken by Peter Merts, professional photographer and experienced Arts in Corrections photographer, as well as Photo Intern, Ashley, who received mentorship and support from Peter. The videos seen throughout were taken by then intern, now Outreach Coordinator, Danielle Yellen. Annie and Danielle made extensive requests and were pleased with CDCR approved video for this project.
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.