Creativity behind bars

In 2010 an art collective was born, it was formed by prisoners doing time at the Fairton Federal Correctional Institution in South New Jersey, America.

Art & Krimes by Krimes a film being released by MTV documentary films and by Paramount it chronicles making of the art piece Apokaluptein by Jesus Krimes and his first fives out of prison as he forges a career in the art world.

The article I read from the New York Times (below) which has a full spread on the subject of art and how it can be a source of rehabilitation. I am of course a massive believe in this. Because art allows the person to find their voice with out judgement. But from my experience as an artist facilitator working with people often on the edges of society they are often never allowed to take ownership of their creative skills, due to many preconceived ideas of such………. not being educated enough, because art is high brow?

The article quotes

This isn’t about some outsider coming in and doing an arts program, it was them on their own, seizing that space, whatever dignity they could craft, and then carry that with them when they came home.

Director Alysa Nahmias of Art and Krimes by Krimes

This person was me, I was the person going inside of Psychiatric Hospitals, doing a 6 week programme then leaving again. To be honest I found this hard because it was so disconnected at times working with very vulnerable people building trust and bonds to only leave in a couple of weeks. Where was the legacy of what they were doing, experiencing, making. Photography session this week, then cooking next week, yes you teach people skills but how do we continue these skills. You are showing them this amazing thing and then taking it away again. And it was as extreme as that.

But as the quote mentioned this came from the people themselves and that is better than anything. But to give credit to Fairton Federal Correctional Institute there must have been a seed bed there waiting, perhaps a prison guard who valued art, a volunteer, a mentor who enabled the seeds to grow.

My experience in art facilitating is there is no magic talent to the art making process it is as simple as this do not be afraid of art.

These institutions often think we have to spend more money but know you have these resources I bet they all ready exist and you can’t see it. All you need is a positive mindset, an empty room and lets face it, those art rooms already exist. I bet they are just store cupboards now, get all that shit out that you’ve stored for years and years and then find your art materials, ask for donations, recycle, reuse. It’s all there at the tips of our hands.

Mindsets of these institutions need to change, the amount of times I have seen patients bored out of there minds in psychiatric hospitals, drinking cups and cups of tea and coffee, endless amounts of cigarettes. The activity workers don’t need to have gone to art school to facilitate an art session, just create a safe space not in a common room but dedicate art room where people feel relaxed to make a mistake, take a risk, be challenged, learn and find their voice through the experience of making art.

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