CorrespondARTS is JAC’s new multidisciplinary, distance learning arts program, which launched in November, 2020. Through CorrespondARTS, participants at Maryland Correctional Institution for Women receive themed packets of prompts and activities in creative writing, poetry, theatre, and visual art every two weeks. Participants can send their responses back to the CorrespondARTS team for feedback and reflections. JAC has pulled together an amazing group of local teaching artists, each with experience facilitating programs in carceral settings, to lead this project:
Lori Pitts is an Applied Theatre practitioner, Theatre of the Oppressed Joker, teaching artist, actor, improvisor, and director in the DMV area. She is passionate about creating platforms for voices that often go unheard. She is the Founding Director of Voices Unbarred, a program that aims to amplify the voices of those impacted by incarceration by using Theatre of the Oppressed techniques to help them write and perform an original play around relevant issues, and is a core member of the DC Coalition for Theatre & Social Justice. Pitts teaches and performs regularly with Young Playwrights’ Theater and has recently been seen on stage with Second City, Rorschach Theatre, The Welders, and Ally Theatre. She is a member of the inaugural cohort of the Culture Caucus with The Kennedy Center, a graduate of the 202Creates Fellowship, a graduate of the Movement Matters Community Organizing & Popular Education Institute, and is a three-time recipient of the Arts and Humanities Fellowship Program grant through the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities for her work within the community.
Carien Quiroga is an award-winning multimedia visual artist and educator that uses her artmaking and teaching practices to engage with creative communities both locally and internationally. Social Justice, mindfulness and collaboration are at the core of her artistic work and teaching practices. She is on the Maryland State Arts Council Artist-in-Residence Roster and is a Master Teacher for the Maryland State Department of Education: Office of Fine Arts – Maryland Centers for Creative Classrooms. Her teaching includes visual art workshops and collaborative projects for incarcerated youth and adults, including those with mental illness, intergenerational art programs as well as mosaic mural-making residencies in hospitals, residential treatment facilities and schools, working with students of all abilities.
Schai Schairer is the Founder of F.I.S.T. and a renowned poet who goes by the name Diabolically Haitian. She has been teaching her poetry classes, known as “The Prison to Poetry Pipeline” at the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women for three consecutive years. She uses her dynamic expressions and wordplay as her methodology of capturing participants’ attention and stunning crowds.
Leslie Bumstead is a poet, writer and educator. She received her Masters in Fine Arts from George Mason University, where she co-founded of So To Speak, a Feminist Journal of Language and Art. Her collection of poems, Cipher/Civilian, was published by Edge Books in 2005. Poems, essays, and translations have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies. Since 2015 she has been teaching weekly creative writing classes in the Maryland Correctional Institution in Jessup, interrupted due to Covid-19, and is thrilled to be working with the Justice Arts Coalition and a team of teaching artists to develop a correspondence arts course for the Maryland Correctional Institution for Women.