What role can the visual and performing arts play in transforming the lives of those behind bars?
Experts in the field of prison arts – along with former inmates who developed an interest in painting and guitar making while incarcerated – will share their experiences, skills and insights about current research during the national Arts in Corrections conference, June 26-30, at Loyola Marymount University. In its second year, the event is produced by the nonprofit group California Lawyers for the Arts, in collaboration with LMU’s College of Communication and Fine Arts and the nonprofit William James Association.
“LMU and CFA are committed to community engagement as well as exploring the links between art and social justice, which is why we jumped at the chance to co-host this conference,” said Bryant Keith Alexander, Ph.D., dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts. “A focus on the critical use of fine and expressive arts as tools of enlightenment, education and transformation in corrections facilities at all levels speaks to LMU’s mission of promoting the encouragement of learning, the education of the whole person, and the service of faith and the promotion of justice.”
The event will feature presentations by artists, arts administrators, educators, lawyers, and mental health and law enforcement professionals. Keynote speakers include Bryonn Bain, artist, activist and UCLA professor, on Tuesday, June 27; L.A. Philharmonic violinist Vijay Gupta on Wednesday, June 28; and state Sen. Ben Allen on Friday, June 30.
On Thursday, June 29, the conference will offer a session with alumni of Arts in Corrections, a program administered by the California Arts Council with funding from the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Three of these alums today work as painters, and another took up guitar making and constructed instruments for several well-known musicians.
The conference will also offer classes led by master artists with experience teaching different art disciplines in institutional settings; research about prison arts initiatives and their benefits; and information on best practices and the challenges facing these programs. StoryCorps, a group dedicated to collecting, sharing and preserving people’s stories, will be set up on campus.
This article originally appeared in the LMU Newsroom