Workshop Spotlight: A Conversation From Death Row with Kenneth Reams

Our online Summer Workshop Series Create+Connect is going strong! This week, on Thursday, June 22, we are so excited to be joined by the incredible Kenneth Reams.

Kenneth "Artist927" Reams
“Kenneth ‘Artist927’ Reams” by Kenneth Reams

Kenneth Reams is an artist, social justice activist, and the founder of Who Decides, Inc., a non-profit that aims to raise awareness through the arts of the racial, ethical, and socio-economic issues intertwined with the history and practice of capital punishment in America. This workshop will include an hour long discussion of his experiences, as well as a Q&A at the end.

Mr. Reams is a native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, one of the most impoverished cities in America. Growing up in poverty, struggling with hunger, abuse, and a lack of opportunity, criminality became an increasingly prominent, unfortunate facet of Mr. Reams’ life. Following a botched robbery at a drive-thru ATM, where his friend shot and killed a man in the heat of the struggle, Mr. Reams was convicted of capital murder and sentenced to death, becoming the then-youngest inmate on Arkansas’ death row, despite not having pulled the trigger.

Facing execution for a murder he did not commit, Mr. Reams refused to allow his spirit to be broken, deciding to hone his life-long artistic skills and vision in order to share his story and perspective with the world. His art has been donated to several institutions, published in books; such as “Marking Time” – released in 2020, and featured in exhibits from New York to Norway, Little Rock to London, and many locations in between. Through a variety of media, including paintings, sculpture, and poetry, Mr. Reams expresses a uniquely visceral vision of the inhumane, arbitrary nature of capital punishment and the exploitative character of the prison-industrial complex.

Home
“Home” by Kenneth Reams

Simultaneous with his rise in profile as an artist, Mr. Reams has become a prolific public speaker, engaging and enlightening an increasingly global audience. His past speaking engagements include talks at the International Film Festival on Human Rights in Switzerland, Stanford University, Bethany College, Princeton University, Columbia University, UNC Chapel Hill, St. Francis College in New York, Yale University, Geneva University – in Switzerland, and the University of Miami School of Law.

With the release of Free Men, a documentary about Mr. Reams’ life, legal battles, and art, his story has taken on a new dimension and medium. As the film has made its way through the circuit of international film festivals, Mr. Reams has shared his thoughts about the film and the future with enraptured audiences in Beirut, France, Argentina, Islamabad, Great Britain, Tokyo, Belgium, and Vienna.

Despite the physical limitations facing Mr. Reams, having spent the past twenty-seven years of his life in the solitary confines of a six-foot by nine-foot cell, Mr. Reams continues to make a lasting impact on all who hear his harrowing yet inspiring story, prompting a widening audience to evaluate their own conceptions of justice and morality.

Please join us for Kenneth Reams’ Workshop on June 22 at 7 pm EST! Tickets here.
Check out more of Kenneth’s work on his website, and sign his petition here!

Create + Connect Online Workshop Series!

To all valued members of the JAC community,

Justice Arts Coalition is launching its first ever online workshop series! Given the tireless work of teaching artists and advocates across the sector, who consistently allow JAC’s community to be one of vibrancy and artistic celebration, we are thrilled to offer these workshops as a chance for our larger network to experience their creative gifts and outreach.

For this online workshop series, which began on April 28, we are joined by facilitators  who work within and around carceral settings across the nation, across various national arts and advocacy organizations, and across arts mediums and practices. We will be bringing weekly arts workshops into your home, including those devoted to creative writing, yoga and meditation, poetry, theatre, and dance, to name a few. The goal of these workshops is to invoke and inspire inspiration, connection, and shared knowledge amongst our community of change makers, as we continue to alter and rebuild our work within the criminal legal system, in response to the limitations imposed by COVID-19. 

As a valued member of JAC’s community, we hope to see you in our workshops. Below you can browse the offerings and schedule. These workshops are being offered as a “pay what you can” series, with donations split between JAC and the teaching artist facilitators. If you are interested in facilitating a workshop in our series, please email justiceartscoalitionintern@gmail.com. 

WORKSHOP SCHEDULE (Subject to future additions):

Wednesday, July 8

​WHAT: Theatre in the Age of Technology with Raina Greifer

WHO: Raina Greifer

WHEN: 3:00 – 4:00 pm EST

Link to Facebook Page

REGISTER HERE

This workshop will explore how theatre makers can adapt and create work specially fitted for digital mediums. The fate of our theatres are largely uncertain, and performers and creators are being asked to produce online as an alternative. We will be looking at platforms such as Zoom, Skype, Social Media platforms, and Google Drive as potential ways to create experimental and innovative pieces that can thrive as we social distance.

Raina Greifer (she/her) is a theatre maker, spoken word performer, and visual artist. She is currently studying Drama and Philosophy at Bath Spa University in England. Her work explores sexual assault, queer identity, and teen heartthrobes. She is a co-founder of Purple Crayon Productions, a theatre group based in Silver Spring, MD and Dog Eat Dog theatre, based in Bath, UK. Creating vibrant, vulnerable and oftentimes humorous work, Raina engages her audience to consider their preconceived notions of femininity and female identity.

This workshop is being offered as “pay what you can,” with a $20 suggested donation, and a $1 minimum donation. All revenue will be split between JAC and the teaching artist facilitators, to honor their creativity, passion, and commitment to creating these spaces. We greatly appreciate any support you can provide.

*****

Tuesday, July 14

​WHAT: Chakra Color Wheels Workshop with Edwin Calderon

WHO: Edwin Calderon

WHEN: 3:00 – 4:00 pm EST

Link to Facebook Page

REGISTER HERE

What to Expect:

Create a color wheel from found objects as we explore our chakras and the colors associated with each one. In times of unrest, it is crucial that we balance ourselves and our intentions in order to exude our best energy unto others. We all have a role to play in our communities. How can we be sure that our thoughts, words, and actions support peace within ourselves and others? Edwin Calderon of Red Dirt Studio leads this workshop which includes a therapeutic exploration within and guided color wheel creation. It will also include a brief walkthrough of color theory, the science of how particular colors make us feel, viewing works from the Philips’s collection as inspiration for your own piece.

Materials:

-small found objects with as many different colors as possible (including red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, and anything in between)

-a clear surface to arrange on

-a camera or phone to photograph your assemblage/ or arranged objects

Edwin Calderon is a painter and community artist. In his studio work, he uses painting and various media to conceptualize with shape and color. His paintings have qualities of nonrepresentational and abstract work, but they hold deeper meaning. In his eyes, they depict living entities in an “unseen” realm, which he uses to evoke positive energy in himself and his world.

This workshop is being offered as “pay what you can,” with a $20 suggested donation, and a $1 minimum donation. All revenue will be split between JAC and the teaching artist facilitators, to honor their creativity, passion, and commitment to creating these spaces. We greatly appreciate any support you can provide.

*****

Friday, July 24

​WHAT: Harnessing Your Artistic Voice with Raina Greifer

WHO: Raina Greifer

WHEN: 4:00 – 5:00 pm EST

Link to Facebook Page

REGISTER HERE

This workshop will explore ways of finding your creative niche and honing in on what makes your creative process important and unique. We will be using writing exercises to develop artistic statements and map out individual artistic goals. This hour long dialogue aims to assist the development of your artistic focus and asks how that focal point can reach various audiences.

Raina Greifer (she/her) is a theatre maker, spoken word performer, and visual artist. She is currently studying Drama and Philosophy at Bath Spa University in England. Her work explores sexual assault, queer identity, and teen heartthrobes. She is a co-founder of Purple Crayon Productions, a theatre group based in Silver Spring, MD and Dog Eat Dog theatre, based in Bath, UK. Creating vibrant, vulnerable and oftentimes humorous work, Raina engages her audience to consider their preconceived notions of femininity and female identity.

This workshop is being offered as “pay what you can,” with a $20 suggested donation, and a $1 minimum donation. All revenue will be split between JAC and the teaching artist facilitators, to honor their creativity, passion, and commitment to creating these spaces. We greatly appreciate any support you can provide.

*****

POSTPONED

​WHAT:Interactive Family Music with Sydney Anderson (KIDS AGES 1-3)

WHO: Sydney Anderson

WHEN: 4:00 – 4:45 pm EST

Link​ to Facebook Page

REGISTER HERE

**Wherever you are, whatever resources you have, and whether or not you have kids/ are able to be with your family right now, this class is open to anyone. It can be done from anywhere, with little to no supplies, and can provide folks with fun ideas to use later on with their kids and family members over the phone, over video call, or in person!

Based on the “First Steps in Music” series by master music pedagogue, Dr. John Feierabend, these classes seek to provide you and your children with an interactive class to help BOTH of you become more “Tune-ful, Beat-ful, and Art-ful” together.

These classes are designed for parents and children (under 3) to do together. Much of the instruction will be geared toward parents to help you support your child in music-making, and provide a new repertoire of musical games and activities to do with your children on your own. However, older kids are welcome to tune in as well to try these activities independently!

We will sing songs, learn rhymes, play rhythmic games, do simple motions/dances, and more!

In an effort to provide accessibility for everyone, including those affected by joblessness during the COVID-19 pandemic (like myself!), these classes will be offered on a purely donation-based system. PLEASE know that you’re welcome to join completely for FREE if that would be most enriching for your family. A virtual donation basket will be available, for those who are able to contribute; Suggested donation is $5/class per child.

Taught by Sydney Anderson: Professional Classical Singer, certified K-12 Music Educator, Additional Certifications in First Steps in Music, Kindermusik, and 10+ years experience teaching music.

This workshop is being offered as “pay what you can,” with a $20 suggested donation, and a $1 minimum donation. All revenue will be split between JAC and the teaching artist facilitators, to honor their creativity, passion, and commitment to creating these spaces. We greatly appreciate any support you can provide.

*****

POSTPONED

​WHAT:Interactive Family Music with Sydney Anderson (KIDS AGES 3-7)

WHO: Sydney Anderson

WHEN: 4:50 – 5:35 pm EST

Link to Facebook Page

REGISTER HERE

**Wherever you are, whatever resources you have, and whether or not you have kids/ are able to be with your family right now, this class is open to anyone. It can be done from anywhere, with little to no supplies, and can provide folks with fun ideas to use later on with their kids and family members over the phone, over video call, or in person!

Based on the “First Steps in Music” series by master music pedagogue, Dr. John Feierabend, these classes seek to provide your children with an interactive class to help them become more “Tune-ful, Beat-ful, and Art-ful.”

These classes are designed for children who can jump, dance, and sing on their own; generally those who have entered Pre-School. Much of the instruction will be addressed directly to the children, and therefore parents are not *required* to attend. However, as with all early childhood music classes, they’re most effective when done alongside someone else, so I encourage parents to join, if possible! Parents of children under 3 are welcome to tune in as well – I will try to offer modifications for you during each activity.

We will sing songs, learn rhymes, play rhythmic games, do simple motions/dances, and more!

In an effort to provide accessibility for everyone, including those affected by joblessness during the COVID-19 pandemic (like myself!), these classes will be offered on a purely donation-based system. PLEASE know that you’re welcome to join completely for FREE if that would be most enriching for your family. A virtual donation basket will be available, for those who are able to contribute; Suggested donation is $5/class per child.

Taught by Sydney Anderson: Professional Classical Singer, certified K-12 Music Educator, Additional Certifications in First Steps in Music, Kindermusik, and 10+ years experience teaching music.

This workshop is being offered as “pay what you can,” with a $20 suggested donation, and a $1 minimum donation. All revenue will be split between JAC and the teaching artist facilitators, to honor their creativity, passion, and commitment to creating these spaces. We greatly appreciate any support you can provide.

*****

REGISTER HERE!!

JAC looks forward to your joining us as part of this workshop series, as we continue to build our community of artists and allies through these virtual offerings. If you are interested in facilitating a workshop in our series, please email justiceartscoalitionintern@gmail.com. 

 

 

REDEMPTION SONGS: A YEAR IN THE LIFE OF A COMMUNITY PRISON CHOIR – Book Release

Innerworld Publications

San German, Puerto Rico

Iowa City-based writer Andy Douglas’s new book, “Redemption Songs: A Year in the Life of a Community Prison Choir”, was released on April 1, 2019. For six years, the author volunteered with the Oakdale Community Choir, a performing chorale composed of both volunteers and inmates and directed by University of Iowa associate professor of music education Dr. Mary Cohen, based in a correctional facility in Coralville, Iowa. Taking the reader inside the walls of this medium-security prison, the book offers a glimpse at how music and the arts are offering second chances to the incarcerated.

The United States incarcerates more prisoners per capita than any other country, with more than two million people in U.S. jails and prisons. In addition to exploring the role of singing as a rehabilitative tool, the book examines some of the pressing issues facing the criminal justice system.

In doing so, it reflects on several questions – how can music and the arts inspire prisoners to change? Should the underlying philosophy of our penal system be one of retribution or restoration? What can restorative justice offer to all those touched by crime and the criminal justice system?

Dr André de Quadros, Professor of Music and Chair, Department of Music Education, Boston University, notes, “More than an account of the choir’s work, the book is a deep insight into musical humanity under dehumanizing conditions. Douglas’s work is evocative and thoughtful, deeply compassionate and humble, and brings the reader close to the troubled lives, wounds and hopes of the incarcerated men.”

Andy Douglas received an MFA in Creative Writing from the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa, where he was the recipient of the Marcus Bach Fellowship for Writing about Religion and Culture. His first book, The Curve of the World: Into the Spiritual Heart of Yoga, was published in 2013 by Bottom Dog Press. He is available for readings, and review copies available upon request.

      

TO ORDER: The book is available from Amazon.com (including ebook), in selected bookstores, and directly from the author. To support the author, order directly from him! Pre-order by sending your mailing address, $16, plus $2.75 for shipping and handling, to Andy Douglas, 2721-D Muscatine Ave, Iowa City, IA 52240. Or send your info to andy.c.douglas@gmail.com and pay by paypal. A percentage of sales will be donated to Inside Out Reentry Community, a returning citizens support organization, and should you wish to donate any amount above the $16 cover price, this will go to the Iowa Organization for Victim Assistance.



An important message from PAC’s manager — please read on!

Dear PAC Community,

I’m excited to share some big news with you! Over the coming months, the Prison Arts Coalition will undergo a transformation to incorporate as the Justice Arts Coalition (JAC), a 501c3 nonprofit organization. In the spirit of the vision that drove PAC’s founders, the JAC will become an organizing body for institutions and individuals across the globe that believe in the power of the arts to ignite change. The JAC will unite people at the intersection of the arts and justice, cultivating community among system-involved artists, their loved ones, educators, scholars, activists, and advocates.

Through hosting in-person trainings, workshops, and conferences, in addition to serving as an online network and archive for resources such as curricula, grant listings, and program evaluation materials, the JAC will foster a collective voice and increase visibility and advocacy for artists working in and around justice systems.

Woan Crocheting - Part 2 of Bars Triptych
by Carole Alden

The JAC’s development is the culmination of the efforts of a Steering Committee comprised of teaching artists and arts advocates that formed at the 2015 Arts in Corrections: Opportunities for Justice and Rehabilitation conference. It is being made possible with seed funding generously contributed by California Lawyers for the Arts and the Warhol Foundation, and fiscal sponsorship provided by The William James Association

You can look forward to changes here on the website. All of the current content will remain intact, but there will be new pages, resources, announcements about ways to get involved with and support the JAC through membership opportunities, donations, and events. We’ll be sharing updates via social media, and plan to roll out a crowdsourcing campaign in the near future, so be sure to follow PAC (soon to become the JAC!) on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to stay in the know. And, we’ll be introducing the JAC in June at Arts in Corrections: Reframing the Landscape of Justice. We hope to see you there!

White Tiger
White Tiger by Daniel Owens

I’m thankful to everyone who has helped to grow and shape PAC over the years. I’ve met so many inspiring people through my work behind the scenes here. These relationships have fueled me, and they serve as reminders that while all of the information, stories, and artwork that PAC has been able to share is incredibly important, it’s the human connection sparked by the sharing of these resources that matters most of all. I’m honored to be a part of the JAC’s efforts to expand and strengthen this web of community.

If you have questions about the JAC, or ideas for the founders to consider as we take our next steps, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at pacoalitionadmin@gmail.com

With gratitude,

Wendy Jason, PAC Manager

If you would like to contribute to the development of the JAC, please follow this link to make a tax-deductible donation through our fiscal sponsor. We need and value your support!

Conference Announcement: Reframing the Landscape of Justice

California Lawyers for the Arts and the William James Association

in collaboration with

Santa Clara University and the Justice Arts Coalition

presents

Arts in Corrections: Reframing the Landscape of Justice

June 24 – 28, 2019

Santa Clara University

500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053

This national conference will provide professional development opportunities for artists who work in correctional institutions at all levels and best practices for arts administrators who would like to learn how to implement and manage these programs.

Participants in this conference will have opportunities to

  • Share best practices in program development and curriculum design
  • Learn about current research models, including evaluation and documentation
  • Develop opportunities to collaborate with justice reform advocates in different states and nationally
  • Participate in workshops showcasing exemplary programs for juveniles and adults, as well as restorative justice and re-entry models
  • Learn how to build public awareness and enhance programmatic sustainability
  • Continue to build the Justice Arts Coalition as a national support organization for artists who teach in correctional institutions and artists coming home
  • Participate in art classes in various disciplines taught by master artists

* Monday, June 24th is reserved as a pre-conference training day for arts providers   and contractors teaching in the CA State Prison System

* Friday’s schedule features Future IDs Workshops at Alcatraz

Confirmed speakers include:

Jimmy Santiago Baca, Conference Artist-in-Residence, as well as Beth Bienvenu, National Endowment for the Arts; Anne Bown-Crawford, California Arts Council; Larry Brewster, University of San Francisco; Dameion Brown and Lesley Currier, Marin Shakespeare Company; Annie Buckley, California State University – San Bernardino; Laura Caulfield, University of Wolverhampton, UK; Mary Cohen, University of Iowa; Mandy Gardner, Southwest Correctional Arts Network (SCAN); Allia Griffin, Santa Clara University; Jane Golden, Philadelphia Mural Arts; Beverly Iseghohi, Urban League of Greater Atlanta; Ashley Lucas, University of Michigan; Dorsey Nunn, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children / All of Us or None; Meade Palidofsky, Story Catchers Theatre; Gregory Sale, Arizona State University; Kyes Stevens, Auburn University; Curt L. Tofteland, Shakespeare Behind Bars; Ella Turenne, Occidental College / Inside Out Prison Exchange Program

Contractors in the California Arts Council state prison arts program should contact their providers to register. 

Artists and staff affiliated with local and state arts agencies throughout the United States should contact CLA conference staff for special discounts available through NEA funding. 

Download Registration Form PDF HERE 

For more information, please contact conference staff at:

aic@calawyersforthearts.org or (415) 775-7200 x 101