Thank you to all those who joined us for any or all of the events below, and please help spread the word about upcoming JAC programming!
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Wed, June 1, 2022 | 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT
Please join us for a virtual screening of JustUs, a rare documentary created by Ced Theus, who is currently experiencing incarceration with a life sentence. In 50 minutes, Ced guides us through a network of individuals who are carving out alternative systems of justice and rehabilitation, in Iowa, a state with one of the largest racial disparities in incarceration. He focuses on the stories of two men he knew in prison who have since successfully reintegrated into society and are making positive changes in their communities. As an independent grassroots production, JustUs shows the kind of inside knowledge that is needed to create meaningful change — including from individuals who have done time for serious crimes.
After the screening, viewers have the opportunity to learn about the unusual process of filmmaking while incarcerated, from Ced himself, his co-producer Maya, and film subject Donta McKenzie. Viewers will be invited into a larger conversation on the racial disparity in incarceration and the violence of the prison industrial complex, and will hear from St. Louis-based activist Tracy Stanton.
Register for the event here.
Fri, June 17, 2022
6:00 PM – 9:00 PM EDT
Location: York & Penn Gallery 501-A York Road, Towson, MD 21204
In partnership with York & Penn Gallery, Justice Arts Coalition presents Sotto Voce, an exhibition featuring over 100 works of art by artists confined to carceral institutions across the United States. In an environment that increasingly calls for a radical re-envisioning of our county’s justice system, this exhibition highlights creative expression both as a human need and a human right, one essential to healing, reconciliation, and community building. These works of art demonstrate that sharing an artistic experience acts as a bridge between people inside and outside of prison, strengthening relationships and reminding us of our shared humanity.
The opening reception will feature in depth artist interviews, performances, and refreshments. Register for the event here.
Wed, May 25, 2022
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT
Emergence 2 is JDPP’s newest site-specific dance theater performance, filmed Oct. 9-10, 2021 on location at the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford CT. Performed in gardens that Stowe called “a place of healing for the soul,” Emergence 2 is inspired by writing, dance, and song developed in residencies at York Correctional Institution for Women over the past 17 years. Emergence 2 travels through the grounds of the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center and lands at the Solitary Garden installation by artist jackie sumell which transforms the dimensions of a solitary confinement cell into a garden of nurturing and healing. Performed by members of the JDPP Ensemble and women and men who have returned to the community from prison, they tell a tale through dance, spoken word and song of confinement and transformation and what it means to emerge from prison. “I want everyone I know to see, hear, watch and understand more about the individuals who experience confinement. Their stories are incredibly moving and brought to life via song, spoken word and movement in stunning ways via Emergence.” -Audience member Register here. ******
Thu, May 26, 2022
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT
Becoming a Citizen Again is a series of discussions where people formerly held on death row share their stories about returning to society and becoming a citizen again, after decades of incarceration. Each hour-length episode will explore what their reentry experience has been like and the role art has played in their journey. Join host Kenneth Reams and guest Calvin Porter for episode two of the series.
Thu, May 19, 2022
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT
The Free Verse model has brought virtual and in-person creative writing and arts classes to youth in Montana’s juvenile detention centers since 2014 and currently provides workshops in six facilities across the state. Executive director Nicole Gomez will give an overview of the Free Verse approach, which includes an emphasis on creativity and trauma-informed principles of choice, mindfulness, and representation. The presentation will include a look at student writing and artwork that have come out of these workshops and have been in print or on exhibit throughout the state. The presentation will be followed by a round table discussion about the model and a Q&A with Free Verse teachers and partners from the juvenile detention centers.
Degrees of Separation
May 1st – May 22nd Catonsville, MD
Opening on May 1st, Degrees of Separation explores the relationship that proximity and spatial relation have with an individual’s ability to understand, experience, and engage. Just as physical distance changes one’s perspective regarding a piece of artwork, so is one’s understanding of the carceral system shaped by their proximity to a person impacted by the system. Utilizing the Baltimore County Arts Guild gallery’s unique space, the exhibit challenges each viewer’s engagement with the art. JAC hopes that this experience with the art will challenge viewers to examine their own understanding of incarceration.
Sun, May 15, 2022
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM EDT
This reception will include live viewings of the artwork, recordings of artist interviews and artist talks, as well as refreshments.
Wed, May 11, 2022
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT
Peter Merts is a photographer residing near San Francisco, California. For the past 15 years he has been photographing art classes in California’s adult state prisons; the images have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Economist, The Guardian, and HufPost. He is in the process of publishing a monograph of his photos of incarcerated artists, and is raising funds for that effort through a kickstarter campaign. Merts’ book includes essay by Merts; Annie Buckley, the founder/director of the Prison Arts Collective; and by two writers who are currently incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison—“Brothers in Pen” Rahsaan Thomas and Kevin Sawyer.
Wed, April 20, 2022
7:00 – 8:30 PM EDT
During the workshop each participant will build a story using the answers produced during a series of questions. For example, “what advice would you give to your younger self?” in response, “I would tell my younger self not to take people or freedoms for granted.” By using specific tools and pulling out the main themes of our story, we can identify and expand how to tell your story in a creative way. All stories deserve to be told. Register here.
Thu, April 21, 2022
7:00 – 8:30 PM EDT
Join Jane Field from Texas After Violence Project (TAVP) and Dr. Susie Bannon from Mourning Our Losses (MOL) for a dialogue about liberators’ memory work, memorialization that ties together research, documentation, and accountability. Jane and Susie will talk about their work with their respective organizations and address questions such as: What does liberatory memory work mean to TAVP and MOL? How do memorialization and remembrance take shape in TAVP and MOL’s work? How does the liberatory memory work of TAVP and MOL contribute to the project of abolition? Register here.
Wed, April 27, 2022
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT
Join us for an evening of poetry reading with Ace Boggess. He will read from his books The Prisoners, written entirely during his incarceration, and Escape Envy, which describes much of his life after prison. The themes of his work often explore absurdity and the awe of new experiences, including prison life. Info on and links to his books can be found here: https://aceboggess.wixsite.com/aceboggess Register here.
Thur, April 28, 2022
7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EDT
Becoming a Citizen Again is a series of discussions where people formerly held on death row share their stories about returning to society and becoming a citizen again, after decades of incarceration. Each hour-length episode will explore what their reentry experience has been like and the role art has played in their journey. Join JAC for a discussion with Kenneth Reams. 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. 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. Register here. ******
Saturdays April 9-May 28, 2022
11am-12:30pm MST/PST, 2-3:30pm EDT
How might the language we find and create together carry us toward more just and lively futures? In this 8-week workshop, we will explore the political possibilities of poetry, and imagine new ways of telling the stories we carry. Every week we will engage in rigorous study of craft and generative writing activities that will encourage risk-taking and precision of language. By the end of the workshop series, each poet will revise an original piece to be included in an anthology, submitted to Iron City Magazine, and performed at our final celebratory reading. Open to formerly incarcerated people and family/friends of current/formerly incarcerated people. There are 30 workshop seats available on a first come, first serve basis. Facilitated by graduate students from the Arizona State University MFA in Creative Writing Program.
On Zoom. Register here by April 2 to receive the link for all workshops.
Tue, April 5, 2022 6:00 – 8:30 PM EDT
Dream Corps JUSTICE will be hosting their sixth annual Day of Empathy on April 5th at The National Building Museum in Washington, DC. Join them as they turn empathy into action in partnership with our Empathy Network, a coalition of system impacted reform advocates.
The pre-event reception (6pm-6:30pm) will include an art auction featuring incarcerated artists. The reception will also feature an empathy-building, virtual reality experience designed to replicate the experience of incarceration. The main program (6:30-8:30pm) will highlight innovative solutions to our nation’s mass incarceration crisis. ROC Nation and Jamla Records hip hop artist Reuben Vincent will also perform live. The evening will conclude with a DJ set and reception from 8:30pm-10pm.
Thu, April. 6, 2022
7:00 – 8:30 PM EST
At this event, Free Minds Poet Ambassadors–formerly incarcerated members of our community–will use poetry and storytelling to connect individuals on both sides of the prison walls, and to promote hope and healing through the literary arts. This session will highlight poetry by Free Minds members and the lived experiences of Carlos Alonzo Avila, Free Minds Poet Ambassador, and Gene Downing, Free Minds Congressman John Lewis Fellow; they will share how to use a virtual platform that will allow participants to respond directly to the moving poetic words of currently incarcerated poets. Your written and artistic responses to the poems will be mailed to each poet and provide an invaluable form of support. We pose this workshop as an interactive artistic exchange, one where poetry and art come together to make a meaningful difference in the lives of participants and Free Minds members. ******
Thu, March. 3, 2022
At this event, Free Minds Poet Ambassadors–formerly incarcerated members of our community–used poetry and storytelling to connect individuals on both sides of the prison walls, and to promote hope and healing through the literary arts. This session highlighted poetry by Free Minds members. Written and artistic responses to the poems were then mailed to each poet. This workshop was intended as an interactive artistic exchange, one where poetry and art come together to make a meaningful difference in the lives of participants and Free Minds members. ******
Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022 This workshop, led by Dr. Lasana Kazembe, was an interdisciplinary critical analysis of the Black Arts Movement (BAM) (1965-1975). The session examined the literature, visual culture, politics, sonic culture, aesthetic foundations, music, spokespersons, and institutional development that emerged during BAM. It exposed participants to a conceptual and aesthetic framework for analyzing, interrogating, and understanding the political and cultural roots of BAM. Additionally, the workshop examined and situated Black Art as Critical Media Literacy and interrogated it as a genealogical strand of the Black Intellectual Tradition. *****
Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022 The first time Ravi Shankar was arrested, he spoke out against racist policing on National Public Radio and successfully sued the city of New York. The second time, he was incarcerated when his promotion to full professor was finalized. The experience taught him about the persistence of structural racism, the limitations of mass media, and the pervasive traumas of twenty-first-century daily life. Shankar’s bold and complex self-portrait—and portrait of America—challenges us to rethink our complicity in the criminal justice system and mental health policies that perpetuate inequity and harm. Ravi Shankar joined JAC on February 10th for a book launch and q&a session. *****
Wednesday, January 19, 2022 On January 19th the JAC Community gathered for an introduction to our Art + Agency initiative, and an open dialogue and restorative conversation facilitated by Page Dukes and Anooj Bhandari. Within Justice Arts Coalition, as we look to both the near-and-distant futures, we want to think about what it means for us as a community to grow skills together in recognizing, interrupting, and responding to harm. We hope to harness a conversation around ethics within our work with people in prison, and how to ensure that we’re engaging with the artists we work with as well as the art they make through practices that are empowering, non-exploitative, and can hopefully lead to shifts of larger trends we see within this work at-large. It is our hope that talking about ethics and non-exploitative practice can both create a more solidaritas coalition, and support us in exploring more specific moments of harm when ethical questions and/or issues of exploitation arise. Poster Art: “She Graduated Y’all,” Aimee Wissman *****
Cover art: My African American Stuck Dream, by Moyo
November 15, 2021 7:00 PM EST
Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Moyo has been in solitary confinement on Texas Death Row for 20 years, sentenced and convicted when he was 18 years old.
This online workshop presented new artwork from Moyo and featured readings from his essays that provide context to each piece. Moyo extended the opportunity for attendees to participate in a collaborative work centered around origami cranes and spoke to the then scheduled execution of Julius Jones.
“My art has taken aim at the criminal punishment system. It has been deployed from inside this cell in rural Texas – armed with the philosophy of non-violent resistance. Its mission simple: demonstrate that there exists a transformative spirituality within people sentenced death, which has not been imagined by the current system.”
To see more of Moyo’s work please visit buddhasondeathrow.com
We Belong Here: Reclaiming Space Through Art
Photorealists to Minimalists
Feb 26 – April 22
Justice Arts Coalition presents to you a collection of work from currently and formerly incarcerated, teaching, and independent artists. The work ranges from abstract paintings to computer animated video units and everything in between. At a time of global crisis, these artists have generously decided to donate some or all of the profits from the sale of their original work. Proceeds will help to sustain JAC’s mission as we continue to seek and implement innovative ways to support artists creating in and around the carceral system, to uplift and amplify their voices and celebratev their work.Tour 3D Virtual Gallery 1 Tour 3D Virtual Gallery 2 *******
Sat, April 10, 2021
Fri, February 26, 2021; 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM EST
Celebrate the work of systems-impacted and allied artists with performances from BL Shirelle, King Moosa, and the Prison Music Project On Friday, February 26 at 7pm EST JAC hosted a musical launch event marking the opening of Inside & Out: Photorealists to Minimalists, JAC’s inaugural virtual exhibition featuring over 30 incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, teaching, and independent artists. We celebrated these artists and their work with musical performances from formerly incarcerated and allied artists including BL Shirelle, King Moosa, and the Prison Music Project; as well as interviews with systems-impacted artists. Artwork above by William Livingston III. *****
We’re all feeling an unusual sense of isolation during this holiday season. Our hearts go out to the imprisoned members of JAC’s community for whom this sense of disconnection and loneliness is so greatly magnified. Although this season may not feel as joyful as usual, we are still going to do our best to spread some holiday cheer.
JAC Holiday Card-Making at Red Dirt Studios, 2019
Last year, we got together in person to make cards for every artist in our network, and their responses were full of gratitude and love. We are so excited to continue the tradition. This year especially, receiving a hand-made card could make a huge difference in someone’s life.
So please, make some hot cocoa, grab some basic art supplies, invite your friends, and join us for card making!
February 12 6:00-7:30pm EST For Week 36 of Create + Connect: JAC’s Virtual Workshop Series we watched and discussed No Joke Theater’s interpretation of addiction and family in their online film! Photograph by Peter Merts *****
Thursday, August 13 In this workshop, we learned about the impact IAHV Prison Breathing-Meditation Program has on inmates through a before & after photo project and inmate testimonies. Through this lense, we explored the value of providing this meditation and stress management to women in the US corrections system. This workshop also led attendees through some of the breathing and meditation techniques IAHV teaches incarcerated women. *****
Thursday, August 6 This workshop explored 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 looked 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. *****
Friday, July 24 This workshop, led by Raina Greifer, explored ways of finding your creative niche and honing in on what makes your creative process important and unique. We used writing exercises to develop artistic statements and map out individual artistic goals. *****
Tuesday, July 14 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 led this workshop which included a therapeutic exploration within and guided color wheel creation. It also included 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. *****
Tuesday, June 30 What is teaching? What is learning? What is performative? What is art? These are questions that all teaching artists, if not all teachers, are asking themselves in this new strange world of “remote learning”. During this 90- minute interactive workshop led by Jessica López-Barkl, participants found modalities and “tricks” to use in the classroom that may be on paper, voice-only, on-camera asynchronously, or two- dimensionally synchronously. The hope was that participants would leave this workshop having found their “voice” as a teacher in this new/abstract world. *****
Thursday, July 2 On July 2nd we hosted an open discussion about your translations with Tomás. Free Translation is a multi-disciplinary project showcasing international works by currently and formerly incarcerated people, and anyone affected by imprisonment. In these sessions we use translation techniques as a means of creatively interpreting works of art and word. This means that we interpret the meaning of the works and create new works of art based on the translations. This can be a translation into another language or another medium. For example, a poem can be manifested into a photograph and a drawing can be written as a letter. In this way, we make new works of art and literature, and attempt to understand each other and open up dialogue. https://freetranslation.prisonspace.org *****
Thursday, June 25, 7:00 – 8:00 pm EST REGISTER HERE Link to Facebook Page 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. 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. 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. 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. *****
Wednesday, June 10, 4:00 – 6:00 pm EST REGISTER HERE Link to Facebook Page How can spoken-word poetry become a source of dialogue and leadership empowerment against racism in America? For spoken-word poets and lovers of spoken-word poetry, this interactive workshop models one way to have conversations in classrooms and community spaces regarding identity through metacognitive observation and spoken-word poetry. Participants will have an opportunity to consider their own identities and visions for the world at both individual and global levels. The focus of this workshop explores ways in which words can inspire and build confidence in future leaders to promote dialogue that transcends the classroom. The two hour workshop cycles through spoken word poetry, pre-writing activity, literature review, writing time, and the opportunities for discussion and reflection. Suitable for adolescents and adults of all ages. The goals of this workshop are to assist participants in building courage, developing self-awareness, and honing effective communications skills through eye contact, projection, enunciation, facial expressions, and gestures. This workshop will focus on how having a unique perspective can teach us about ourselves and each other. Dr. Anderson P.C. Smith, received his Ph.D. from Teachers College, Columbia University. He teaches creative writing in both medium and maximum-security prisons in New York. He holds a Master’s in Philosophy and Master’s in Education for the teaching of English, and a Master’s in Fine Arts for Creative Writing, with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications. He is currently researching the effects of literature when used in service to people with criminal conviction histories, post-incarceration. Anderson loves a good mystery novel, performing spoken word poetry, and singing embarrassing songs (as loud as possible), to his wife, three boys, and cat. 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. *****
A Conversation about the Impact and Necessity of the Humanizing Language Around People Who Are or Have Been Incarcerated
Monday, June 1, 5:00 – 6:00 pm EST REGISTER HERE Link to Facebook Page News media, and others in our community, often use language that is harmful to the image of the person in re-entry to the community. New language requires innovation, simplicity, and intention to become adopted in our society. Let’s work to together to think broadly about what these labels mean, how we leverage or eliminate them, and strategies for respectful communication. This workshop will be a one-hour discussion based workshop, with prior access to two different google forms anonymous surveys. Please take the artist survey only if you are a formerly incarcerated artist. General audience survey is for everyone, and the results of both surveys will be made available, and used for discussion. These surveys were created after Aimee’s most recent curation effort for the Returning Artist Guild. The surveys origianlly went to formerly incarcerated artists, and the general one went to parole officers, prison staff, and teaching artists and volunteers. The results of the surveys were pretty powerful, and led to the creation of a media release/statement for RAG artists to use. Aimee Wissman is a formerly incarcerated artist from Columbus, Ohio. She is the founder of the Returning Artists Guild, a network of currently and formerly incarcerated artists seeking and creating opportunities and community for artists inside and out, as well as a steering committee member for the Ohio Prison Arts Connection. Having personally been affected by the stigmas surrounding the criminal justice system, Aimee hopes to change the conversation around mass incarceration. Visit Aimee on Instagram and Facebook @aimeeinks and The Returning Artists Guild @thereturningartistsguild 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, June 2, 5:00 – 6:00 pm EST REGISTER HERE Link to Facebook Page Take time to relax and reflect on your life as a river. See the meander, the rapids, the flow, the feeding springs and the flood plains. Using simple drawing and guided writing to create this imaginative visual of your life. The process has been used in women’s visual journal classes at prison. River of My life gives participants an opportunity to ponder their lives in a new way and with amazing results. Gabriel is the director of Creative Spirit. For 30 years, Creative Spirit (a 501(c) 3 organization) has kindled passion and awe in thousands of people through workshops, classes and performances. Using the visual and performing arts, we guide participants to explore their spirituality in today’s complex world. Our work with women in prison helps them rediscover their passions and the power of their spirituality to recreate and heal their lives. 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. *****
#CreativeResistance— The Intersection between Visual Arts & Human Rights with Marissa Gutierrez-Vicario in association with Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE)
Thursday, May 28, 3:00 – 4:00 pm EST REGISTER HERE Link to Facebook Page Through this session, folks will come away with a more concrete understanding of what basic human rights are and how they can be identified and made applicable to their own lives and communities. In this workshop, we’ll explore examples of visual artwork that express or advocate for human rights. Regardless of one’s artistic background, we’ll engage in simple, interactive art-making activities together. Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE) is a New York City-based non-profit that works to amplify the voices of young people for human rights change through the visual arts. For more info: http://www.artejustice.org 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. *****
Forging Public/Private Partnerships for Incarcerated Youth with Jeanie Thompson, Founder of Writing Our Stories, a program of the Alabama Writers’ Forum, a Statewide Literary Service Organization
Tuesday, May 26, 1:00 – 2:00 pm EST REGISTER HERE Link to Facebook Page Since 1997, the Alabama Writers’ Forum has helped shape public dialogue around the intersection of the arts and justice through Writing Our Stories, an in-class creative writing program for students in the Alabama Department of Youth Services school district. Teaching writers spend 9 months with DYS students, then publish an anthology of their work and produce a book launch. That’s the framework, but the by-product of this work is that a wide circle of educators, arts practitioners, and elected officials in Alabama are aware of the power of creative writing for incarcerated youth. In this workshop, will we briefly look at Alabama’s model and give guidance for identifying potential partners and funders to create sustainable and impactful creative (and other arts) programs in your location’s youth facilities. 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.
Saturday, May 23, 3:00 – 4:45 pm EST REGISTER HERE Link to Facebook Page The Prison Story Project offers incarcerated women and men an opportunity to explore their truths through poetry, creative writing, literature, song-writing, and visual art. Their work is then curated into a staged reading performed by actors and presented first to those on the inside, and then outside to the community. Eleven of the thirty-four men on death row participated in the Project from May – October. Six actors and a musician were brought back to Varner Prison’s death row to present the staged reading of “On The Row” to the men. Three months later the state of Arkansas announced it would execute 8 men over 10 days just after Easter 2017. Four of the men set to be executed were participants in our project. Two were executed and two received last minute stays. “On The Row” has been touring the country since 2017. Last year the Whiting Foundation for the Humanities awarded The Prison Story Project a substantial grant which has allowed us to create a filmed version of the staged reading as well as creation of a comprehensive teaching guide to share with other arts organizations interested in replicating our work. For this online screening, the Prison Story Project team will introduce the film and provide time for a Q&A after. PLEASE NOTE: Because of the uniqueness of this event, we require some sort of donation. 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, May 19, 5:00 – 6:00 pm EST REGISTER HERE Link to Facebook Page Using letter writing and correspondence as the guide we will explore how we address messages, and where they resonate in the body. This session will include a movement based warm up, independent writing, improvising and exploring all together, and optional sharing. There is plenty of space for deep thoughts, casual ones, silly experiments, and experimentation. Corina Iona Dalzell is a dance maker and performer focusing on inclusion and community. “Dear & Sincerely” is one of many original works that have been performed at numerous festivals and studios. They are based in D.C., but have worked and partnered with theaters and arts organizations across the country. Click here to learn more about Corina and their work. 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. *****
Sunday, May 17, 11:00 am – 12:30 pm EST REGISTER HERE Link to Facebook Page Do you seek the right words to express yourself and communicate with others in ways that create more connection instead of disconnection? Join DC Peace Team online on Sunday, May 17th from 11-12:30 est for a session of Nonviolent Communication (NVC). For this NVC practice session on offering empathy, we’ll explore what it might look like when someone is in emotional pain and how we react or respond, physically, mentally, and emotionally. By investigating our own responses and the unmet needs of those in emotional pain, we’ll dive deep into an evaluation of how some responses are more likely to allow those in pain to feel relief from shared empathy. Sal Corbin offers training in Active Bystander Intervention, Restorative Justice and conflict mediation. He worked for 15 years in academia as a Psychology Professor before transitioning to nonprofit work. He has done Workforce Development training and program management and is currently a Training Coordinator for Friendship Place and a Mediation Coordinator for Community Mediation DC. His vision is to help others build and maintain healthy relationships, with conflict transformation as the primary focus. His extensive background in leadership facilitation supports his efforts to keep showing up and sharing. LeeAnn King is a geospatial scientist, community organizer, yoga teacher, and health & wellness guide. She has developed trainings and guidelines to create and maintain Safe Spaces for several community organizations and businesses in and around DC with NVC as a primary tool for communication. The DC Peace Team envisions a society committed to sustainable peace and justice. We commit to sustaining a DC Peace Team that cultivates the virtue of nonviolent peacemaking and key corresponding practices. We commit to unleashing the power of ordinary civilians to increasingly serve their communities particularly as nonviolent peacekeepers, and by extension as peacemakers and peacebuilders. Website:https://dcpeaceteam.com/ FB: https://www.facebook.com/DcPeaceTeam Email: DCPeaceTeam@gmail.com 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. *****
Drawing Games with Julie McNiel
Friday, May 15, 3:00 – 4:00 pm EST REGISTER HERE Link to Facebook Page WHAT TO HAVE: 4 or 5 sheets of 8 1/2 x 11” paper and a couple pencils. Soft graphite pencils, like 2B or 4B are good. A pencil sharpener is handy to have. You are encouraged to use any size paper, sketch pads, journals, colored pencils, whiteboard, pens, that you have available. But plain white paper and a pencil or two are all you really need. Find a suitable place to draw, while watching your screen. Jump right into a series of drawing games that get you moving and making marks, fearlessly. The games are based on warm-ups that Julie uses in her prison art classes. They are simple practices to encourage participants to enjoy drawing, engage in the spirit of improvisation, without judgement or the pressure to make something perfect or realistic. Each exercise builds upon the others. For the beginner, the objective is to make marks and move through each step, letting go of fear and preconceptions. The more experienced artist may approach the 45 minutes of drawing as a form of meditation that may lead to new ideas, or release blocks to your own creativity. If you are a teacher, you may find something in this workshop useful in your own classroom. Be playful, and open to the flow of imagery that will emerge. Julie is a contracted Teaching Artist and Site Coordinator with the William James Association Prison Arts Project. Through the Arts-in-Corrections Program, a partnership between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the California Arts Council, Julie has taught weekly visual arts classes at Pelican Bay State Prison, year-round, since 2014. Julie has also taught art classes at Humboldt County Correctional Facility, as a volunteer. To see Julie’s art: www.juliemcniel.com. To learn about the AiC Program: www.artsincorrections.org This workshop is being offered as “pay what you can,” with a $20 suggested donation. All revenue will be split between JAC and the teaching artist facilitators. We greatly appreciate any support you can provide. ***** Create + Connect: Online Workshop Series
Creative Writing & Movement Workshop with Peggy Lamb, teaching artist with Truth Be Told
Tuesday, April 28, 4:00 – 5:00 pm EST What to have: paper and pen; comfortable clothing Discover the wisdom that swims through your body… and have fun doing it! Come play with us as we explore the relationship between the language of words and the language of the body. We’ll do some fun and simple movement exercises to encourage somatic awareness and deepen our writing practice, followed by writing prompts. Previous movement and/or writing experience is NOT required. Bring pen and paper and an open mind. Peggy Lamb is the Exploring Creativity Coordinator at Truth Be Told, a non profit organization based in Texas that offers various programs in women’s prisons and jails that promote personal growth and healing from past trauma. A writer and a facilitator of writing and creative movement workshops, Peggy has made numerous contributions to the organization over the past ten years. She was recently featured as a guest on the Podcast series, Excellent Decisions. If you would like to get in contact with Peggy, you can email her at email@example.com. *****
Interactive Poetry with Leigh Sugar, teaching artist with the Prisoner Reentry Institute
Friday, May 1, 12:00 – 1:30 pm EST What to have: paper and pen In this workshop we will explore the power of storytelling to frame and process the sometimes confusing range of experiences that accompany challenging situations – perhaps incredible joy, gratitude, and pride, as well as devastating disappointment, loss, and frustration, sometimes all at once. We will share our various challenges and triumphs, read examples of poems and stories loosely organized around themes of social and environmental challenges (including illness, incarceration, loss, radical joy), and write our own creative pieces from prompts designed to expose our perspectives, assumptions, fears, pains, and gratitude. No creative writing experience necessary. The Prisoner Reentry Institute (PRI) is one of twelve institutes that collectively comprise the Research Consortium of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. PRI’s diversified portfolio reflects an overall focus on understanding what it takes for people to live successfully in their communities after contact with the criminal justice system, and on increasing the effectiveness of the professionals who work with them. This is accomplished through their three main tracks of policy advocacy, direct service practice, and collaborative partnerships. Join their community by subscribing to their mailing list. *****
Yoga and Meditation with Marcia McGee, Youth Arts: Unlocked Teaching Artist
Sunday, May 3, 10:00 – 11:00 am EST What to have: comfortable clothing and space for movement Join Youth Arts: Unlocked on a Sunday morning for a calming, reflective, and de-stressing 60-minute yoga class. We are in a time of anxiety-provoking chaos, and it is important that we all stop for a second, confront how we are feeling, and just be still. This class is especially directed toward first responders in carceral settings, but all are welcome. YOUTH ARTS: UNLOCKED (previously The Buckham/GVRC Share Art Project) brings artists and arts workshops to justice-involved youth in Flint and Genesee County. The organization’s goal is to introduce artistic concepts and techniques as a means of CONNECTING, EXPRESSING, LEARNING, AND DISCOVERY. It began with a 12-week pilot project in the fall of 2011 and currently offers weekly workshops in the visual arts, Spoken Word poetry, theatre, and dance. Workshops are held at Genesee County’s youth detention facility, GVRC, and at GearUp Academy. *****
Theatre Workshop with Janessa Johnsrude
Tuesday, May 5, 7:00 – 8:15 pm EST What to have: comfortable clothing and space for movement; writing instrument Pelican Bay Prison Arts Theatre Program Director and physical theatre artist, Janessa Johnsrude, will lead a workshop presentation of the “character projects” curriculum she has designed and implemented at Pelican Bay State Prison in California. The workshop will detail class structure, ensemble building techniques, devising for solo and group projects, and her experience working with ensembles of incarcerated individuals to generate original performance. REGISTER HERE Link to event on Facebook *****
Saturday, May 9, 4:00 – 5:00 pm EST This workshop will include an hour long facilitated dialogue about the importance and challenges of creating art experiences and lessons from a trauma informed perspective. Not only is this especially important to have an understanding of while working in and around carceral settings, but also as an educator, administrator, or creator of art. Kate Stank, a teaching artist in Pennsylvania, engages in therapy work with incarcerated men. In her work, she creates and facilitates experiences that are trauma informed. Most of the clients she works with have trauma in their history, and she believes that an awareness of this dynamic is important when crafting experiences and lessons. REGISTER HERE Link to Facebook Page This workshop is being offered as “pay what you can,” with a $20 suggested donation. All revenue will be split between JAC and the teaching artist facilitators. We greatly appreciate any support you can provide. *****
Dance and Movement Class with Sarah Dahnke and Sarah Pope from Dances for Solidarity
Thursday, May 14, 2:00 – 3:00 pm EST What to have: Comfortable clothing and room to move In this Dances for Solidarity workshop, participants are led through the process of embodying choreography created by someone in solitary confinement, creating a movement-based response, and transcribing this movement into text that can be mailed back to the incarcerated person. This will be a creative and immersive experience that will allow us to experience pain through artistic motion. Sarah Danke and Sarah Pope are choreographers and movement directors through the Dances for Solidarity collaboration, which invites people who are being held in solitary confinement to perform a 10-step written movement sequence inspired by a sense of community. The project is truly inspiring in that, although participants are engaging in the choreography alone in their cells, there are other people across various prisons doing the exact same dance. The program currently sends invitations to prisons in Texas and Louisiana. REGISTER HERE Link to Facebook Page This workshop is being offered as “pay what you can,” with a $20 suggested donation. All revenue will be split between JAC and the teaching artist facilitators. We greatly appreciate any support you can provide. ***** We’re excited to be partnering with President Lincoln’s Cottage for Iron Cages, an exhibition that will reveal just how much ingenuity exists among the nearly 7 million people who are justice-involved in the US, amplify the voices of those most impacted by mass incarceration, and demonstrate the power of the arts to spark connection, empathy, and change. The exhibition will feature the work of over 20 currently and formerly incarcerated artists in JAC’s national network. Iron Cages opens to the public on January 7th and runs through the end of the month.
We’ll celebrate the launch of the exhibition with a reception at the Cottage on Thursday, Jan. 9 from 6:30-8:30pm. Voices Unbarred, a local prison theatre program, will perform, and there will be readings of poetry written by men and women participants in writing classes at MD prisons as well as live jazz and refreshments. Info and registration here.
On Tuesday, Jan. 14, we’ll gather at Rhizome DC for our third ArtLinks letter-writing night, where volunteers will get to view new artwork by incarcerated artists and share their reactions, reflections, and feedback with them by mail. Participation is free, of course, but we do ask that folks try to bring a few dollars to contribute to the cost of using Rhizome’s space. Refreshments will be provided. More info and RSVP here.
Last but definitely not least, we’ll close out the Iron Cages exhibition on January 30 with an event that we’re really excited about: a screening of 16 Bars, “a feature-length documentary that offers a rare glimpse at the human stories — and songs — that are locked away in our nation’s jails and prisons”. The film follows Grammy-winning recording artist Todd “Speech” Thomas into the Richmond Jail, where he collaborates on an album with four incarcerated musicians. It’s an incredibly powerful film.
Tickets are required for this event and can be purchased here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/16-bars-documentary-screening-tickets-88709286865
We hope you’ll stay for a panel discussion after the film. Panelists include:
Lyn is a Behavioral Health Advocate and Community Policing & Re-entry Expert whose father was incarcerated in Federal Prison. Lyn specializes in domestic violence prevention, trauma and healing, community policing, youth engagement, and prison reentry. Lyn’s extensive career spans over 20 years, including a dynamic background in violence reduction with a majority of years spent in law enforcement as a civilian, in addition to the private and nonprofit sectors, state, and federal government. She also advises grassroots organizations that offer fatherhood and mentoring programs for returned citizens. Lyn works to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community, especially with youth and those returning from prison. Lyn serves on the State of Maryland Governor’s Office of Community Initiatives Interfaith Domestic Violence Coalition and is the Chair of the Civil Unrest Work Group. In October of 2016, Lyn was appointed by Maryland Governor Larry J. Hogan, Jr. to the Neshante and Chloe Davis Domestic Violence Prevention Task Force, the first task force of its kind for the State of Maryland. She is a speaker and workshop presenter on various issues including mental health and founded a grassroots program that focuses on domestic violence prevention education and trauma.
Ben Harbert joined the music faculty at Georgetown University after receiving his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles. His Ph.D. research was on music in three Louisiana prisons. His current research interests also include documentary film and posthumanism. Ben has been a teaching fellow at UCLA and a lecturer at Pomona College as well as a resident artist at the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. Before returning to academia, he directed the guitar, percussion and music theory programs at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. Ben is the Director of the 2012 documentary, Follow Me Down: Portraits of Louisiana Prison Musicians, and the author of numerous chapters and articles, including “Only Time: Musical Means to the Personal, the Private and the Polis at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women” (American Music, 2013); “I’ll Keep on Living After I Die: Musical Manipulation and Transcendence at Louisiana State Penitentiary” (The International Journal of Community Music, 2010); and “Sounding Lockdown: Singing in Administrative Segregation at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women” (with Consuela Gaines for Popular Music and the Politics of Hope, eds. Susan Fast and Craig Jennex, Routledge, 2019).
Washington, D.C., 1993. David Sampé was 19 years old and confined at a Correction Corporation of America (now Civic Corps) facility, the first wave of prisons for profit. He was placed in a youth Act Program that kept him, and others like him, locked in a 6’x9’ cell for eight months, 23½ hours a day. A part of him that went into that box never came out. Broken, like Humpty Dumpty, he was left to put himself back together again. Several years later, after multiple arrests and felony convictions, he became mentally unhinged and spiraled out of control. Over the course of 25 years he has reconstructed his mind piece by piece and, through the practice of mindfulness and meditation, has turned a broken mind into a resilient one. These experiences have equipped him with the tools to guide men and women coming home from prison out of their fractured state and back into balance. David formed Article730 in 2015 to act as a vessel that can guide returning citizens to a healthy life beyond their mental confinement. In 2018, Article730 moved from New York to its new home in Washington D.C. and added to its mission. Taking the Fredrick Douglas quote “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men,” Article730 went into public middle schools with the goal of eradicating all in-school suspension/detention centers and establishing Wellness Centers as an alternative. In 2019, David Sampé was asked to join the YES! for Schools family to train school teachers mindfulness and the power of meditation and became a Senior Production Advisor to the One in Four podcast, which focuses on humanizing, educating and elevating the conversation about re-entry of the formerly incarcerated. David recently joined the team of Aspire Side Hustle as a Wellness and Meditation Coach, where he stays devoted to not only making a change in the community but changing the narrative entirely, and was invited to join the board of PAVE (Parents Amplified Voices in Education), a non-profit organization that partners parents and leaders with schools and policymakers to develop diverse, safe, and nurturing schools for every child.
Kofi Dennis is a drummer, performer, and educator. He earned a degree in Early Childhood Education at the Komenda Teaching College, University of Cape Coast in Ghana, West Africa, and a degree in Theater Arts (creative dramatics) from the School of Performing Arts at the University of Ghana. Before moving to the United States in 1995, Kofi taught academics and lead performing arts programs at schools, correctional facilities, orphanages, and child-care centers in Ghana. He also starred in radio and stage theaters, television and video productions in Ghana. Since being in the DC metro area, Kofi has educated and entertained as a drummer, storyteller, singer, and dancer at venues such as the Kennedy Center, Discovery Theater, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and Wolf Trap’s Theater in the Woods and Filene Center. He has taught creative drama at the Montessori School of Northern Virginia in Annandale for the past 10 years and has been a Wolf Trap Master Teaching Artist since 1998. He is recognized as a master teacher/trainer and presenter of West African Culture. Kofi runs Play for Concepts and teaches in DC area detention facilities through Artivate‘s Project Youth Arts Reach. He has worked with World Children’s Choir to lead an African drumming for peace initiative and performs as half of the duo Anansegromma, presenting music, dance, drums, games, and stories.
Tickets are required for this event and can be purchased here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/16-bars-documentary-screening-tickets-88709286865
Here’s to a new year and a growing movement of artists, activists, advocates, and allies dedicated to harnessing the power of the arts to reimagine justice.