Ronald Simpson, the father of a murdered child, has written a very beautiful piece in the Detroit Free Press describing why he opposes Senate Bill 319 which makes juvenile life without parole a sentencing option for children in Michigan. Since we do not deem children under the age of eighteen to be old enough to make mature decisions about things like voting or alcohol use, why would we want to lock them up for the rest of their lives rather than encouraging them to grow learn from their mistakes, and become productive citizens in their adulthood?
The Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) is excited to announce an opportunity to be part of its new Atonement Project initiative—an arts-based restorative justice program that seeks to start meaningful conversations about crime, incarceration, and reconciliation.
Anyone whose life has been touched by crime or incarceration in any way is invited to join a weekly Atonement Project arts workshop in either Detroit or Lansing. Workshops are facilitated by University of Michigan students enrolled in PCAP Director Ashley Lucas’ Atonement Project course. Workshops began February 1 (Detroit) and February 4 (Lansing) and run for 12 weeks. Contact Ashley Lucas at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to register. You are welcome to join even if you already missed the first weeks of the workshop.
The Atonement Project is an innovative, arts-based approach to addressing issues that many crime victims and people who have committed crimes find difficult to discuss (i.e. forgiveness and reconciliation). We wish to create spaces, both through an interactive website and through arts workshops in prisons and in communities affected by crime, where the arts and creativity can help us bridge the divides created by crime and incarceration. The ultimate goal of the Atonement Project is to bring together people whose lives have been shaped by crime so that we can join our efforts to prevent further harm to our families, loved ones, and communities.
Drawing on a broad variety of art forms, including visual art, creative writing, theater, music, poetry, and dance, the Atonement Project uses creative expression to engage participants in tough conversations about crime, punishment, and reconciliation. Technology, including the Atonement Project website, video, digital photography, social media, and interactive online tools will enable web users to have access to the products of our arts workshops and participate in larger conversations about forgiveness and atonement.
The use of creativity and art in examining issues related to atonement and reconciliation is a central component of the Atonement Project. Many people respond more openly to and are able to connect with the experiences of others when they read their stories and experience visual art. The art created in our workshops and displayed on our website will focus on the following three areas of the atonement process:
- Acknowledgement: Recognizing how we have hurt and how we have been hurt by others.
- Apology: Apologizing to those we have hurt, and apologizing to ourselves for the hurt we have caused ourselves.
- Atonement: Atoning through direct actions in our community, with people we have hurt as well as ourselves.
Anyone whose life has been touched by crime or incarceration in any way is welcome to participate in community workshops, and there is no cost involved in participation. Workshops will take place once a week for two hours and will run for twelve weeks. We ask that participants try to come to all workshops, but we understand that not everyone who participates will be able to attend every single week.
Each workshop will be a space for participants to collaborate as a group on creative writing, performance, and/or visual art. No prior artistic training or previous affiliation with PCAP is required. Everyone is welcome, and no particular skill set is necessary for participation.
February 1-April 19, 2014
U-M Detroit Center (South Studio)
3663 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
February 4-April 22, 2014
Michigan State University
Snyder-Phillips Hall C301
362 Bogue Street (close to the intersection of Bogue and Grand River)
East Lansing, MI 48825
Contact Ashley Lucas at email@example.com to register.
About the Prison Creative Arts Project
The Prison Creative Arts Project (PCAP) was founded in 1990 with the mission to collaborate with incarcerated adults, incarcerated youth, urban youth and the formerly incarcerated to strengthen our community through creative expression. Housed in the University of Michigan’s Residential College, faculty and students work with community members both inside and outside prisons to engage in theatre, dance, visual art, creative writing, slam poetry, and music.
More information, including a link to the Atonement Project website (which we hope to launch later this month) will appear on this blog soon.
Meanwhile, my dear friend Margarita Mooney (a sociologist at Yale) visited our class and wrote a fantastic blog entry of her own that explains our work beautifully. Thank you, Margarita, for your support of the Atonement Project and for your wonderful visit to the Atonement Project class!
This morning I had the honor of chatting with Eve Anklam–a formerly incarcerated visual artist who works with PCAP’s Linkage Project and is also a member of PCAP’s National Advisory Board. We were guests on a radio program called Current State on WKAR public radio in Michigan. Click here to listen to the interview.
We got the chance to tell people about the upcoming Linkage Exhibition which will take place in the East Quad Gallery on the University of Michigan campus from February 14 to March 15, 2014. Around thirty works of visual art by formerly incarcerated artists will be on display and available for purchase. A reception to celebrate the artists will take place in the gallery on the evening of February 21. Please join us!