Joe Gutierrez Office of Strategic Communication 909-537-5007 email@example.com
The Prison Arts Collective (PAC) at Cal State San Bernardino and the Hope and Redemption Team of the Anti-Recidivism Coalition (ARC) were recognized on Jan. 22 by state Sen. Jim Beall for a PAC exhibition on display at the California State Capitol in Sacramento. The PAC exhibit, “Beyond the Blue,” features 15 diverse artworks by California inmates who are participating in PAC classes taught inside state prisons. The art, which evokes prison experience, personal expression and transformation, is on display through Jan. 25 outside the governor’s office in the Annex Hallway. PAC teaching artists, Nancy Huitzil and CSUSB alumna Heather Roessler, traveled to Sacramento to help install the exhibit. Also included in the exhibition are photographs of the PAC program by Arts in Corrections photographer and PAC Advisory Council member Peter Merts. “This truly collaborative project would not be possible without the dedication and passion of so many artists, students, staff, supporters and more. I value our incarcerated participants’ creative work and their wish to share their voices through art,” said Annie Buckley, founder of PAC and CSUSB professor of visual studies. “It is this expressed wish that drives our exhibition program and it is why I am so pleased to share their art to this esteemed place, outside the governor’s office. By having the artwork in the state Capitol, we as a group have the potential to share the human and personal aspect of incarceration with our state lawmakers that cast critical votes on criminal justice reform.” On Jan. 22, PAC and its partners at ARC hosted a series of events where attendees were able to view the artwork from the “Beyond the Blue” exhibit, learn more about the programs, meet with artists, and speak to PAC and ARC members. A reception was held later that day at the ARC Sacramento Office, with remarks from state Sen. Beall (D-Campbell) and Assemblymember Kevin McCarty (D-Sacramento). Dorota Huizinga, CSUSB associate provost for academic research and dean of Graduate Studies, attended the events. “I am extremely fortunate to have an incredible advisory council for the Prison Arts Collective made up of professionals that volunteer their time and expertise to help our program grow and thrive,” Buckley said. “This exhibition and reception would not be possible without all of their support, in particular Mary Beth Barber, who has been instrumental in facilitating this exhibition in the state Capitol. We also appreciate local volunteer, Marion Millin, who donated her time to organize and install this exhibition.”“Beyond the Blue” is a traveling exhibition of more than 100 works that opened in 2017, and has scheduled visits at Southern California galleries and museums through 2020. PAC is a project of the Community-based Art initiative that Buckley founded in 2013 in collaboration with students and alumni with the goal of expanding access to art in the region. It has been a project of the CSUSB Office of Research and Sponsored Programs since 2015. PAC is dedicated to facilitating art in local prisons and supporting further collaborations between the state university and prison systems. The program offers a vibrant and effective approach to rehabilitation through visual arts and creative writing, integrating principles of restorative justice through a rich and varied approach to the creative process that includes art appreciation, art making and reflection. PAC is made possible by a contract through California Arts in Corrections, a partnership between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the California Arts Council.PAC is one of 16 California Arts in Corrections organizations. All organizations offer structured art classes taught by professional artists, allowing inmates to earn good-time credits and Rehabilitative Achievement Credits for their participation. Eight prisons offer PAC courses and as many as 2,200 inmates have gone through the program. “We are fortunate that rehabilitative programs are valued in the state of California and receive funding,” Buckley said. “Mass incarceration is a complex and layered issue; an overwhelming majority of those that are incarcerated have experienced significant trauma themselves, including poverty, abuse, discrimination and other factors that can lead to poor choices. “Isolating these people from our communities only deepens the divide,” she continued. “Rehabilitative programs offer participants the chance to find aspects of themselves that they may not have had the chance to see, or have forgotten, which opens the way for each to build a more positive self-concept. The arts in particular allow individuals to form a supportive and creative community in a difficult place, connecting with those that they may not interact with outside the arts space due to the politics of prison.” Visit the Prison Arts Collective website at prisonartscollective.com to learn more about the program.