“See Inside,” a highly collaborative art exhibit that gives incarcerated youth a chance to share their stories, is being produced by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven. The exhibition will be on display at The Parachute Factory at Erector Square from Tuesday, April 5 through Thursday, June 30. An artists’ reception is scheduled for the first night from 5-7 p.m.
There will be visual works, musical pieces and poetry gathered from teens in juvenile justice programs from around the state.
“Kids [have] talked about what an important coping skill making art [has] become for them,” says Abby Anderson, executive director of the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance. “Sadly, most of them didn’t have the opportunity to develop their talents in their own schools or communities.”
Jeffrey Greene, CPA’s Program Manager for the Prison Arts Program, says the show “brings together the individual experiences, talents, emotions and ideas from throughout the community to make a constructive difference in the lives of young people….it’s really exciting. It [also] gives the prison staff and the people in the community the chance to see the inmate as more than a number and a crime.”
One teen involved feels she has benefited “just by looking at the artwork and finding out people’s feelings toward their problems.”
“Tell Me What You See,” a thirty-five part work made up of a grid of 18” by 24” paintings, is the centerpiece of the CPA’s STD health education program, used in Connecticut’s high schools since 2009. The program relates the experiences of incarcerated youth to high school students through the medium of art. Students are given the opportunity to see how their own choices lead directly to consequences – for better or worse – while the artists are able to consider their own choices and the direction of their lives in the process. According to one student involved, “the program makes me see the regret and fear of STD’s, hepatitis and HIV/AIDS.”
CJJA advocates for community programs that prevent delinquency and for fair, effective treatment to help children who do enter the system. The CPA’s Prison Arts Program promotes self-examination and self-esteem in Connecticut inmates through participation in visual arts classes, exhibitions and publications while sharing their contributions with the community at large.
The project is presented by the Arts Council of Greater New Haven and the Connecticut Mental Health Center Foundation in collaboration with the Connecticut Juvenile Justice Alliance and the Community Partners in Action Prison Arts Program.