Women’s Detention Facility

Child abuse and neglect increases the likelihood of being arrested for a violent crime by 30% as reported by a study in 2001, sponsored by the US Department of Justice. To directly combat the negative effects of physical and sexual abuse I am developing an art curriculum built around the treatment process developed by Stephanie Covington Beyond Trauma: A Healing Journey for Women.

At a progressive thinking local women's detention facility, the Re-entry Services Division is working with me while they transition from current cognitive thinking curriculum to a women focused program that includes art making.

I am developing curriculum and will teach 400+ women at the detention facility, directly impacting hundreds of lives. Current counselors at the facility would also learn about how art impacts healing and how to teach it. Other artists that are using healing art practices in their own work have shown an interest in collaborating in this project. Gallery owners in the community have also expressed interest in showing art work from the program to educate the community on the positive results of art making for social change

Trauma and abuse impacts all socio-economic and racial groups. Art will lower the levels of anxiety, depression, PTSD and other psychological stresses for the women there. Art will empower them to become change makers in their communities.  

Drawing: Expressing Trauma With Line

I am currently teaching a class I designed at the detention center. Using pencil and paper I encourage the women to use expressive line, while teaching them drawing skills. 

The positive responses of the inmates has been amazing! We have tears and laughter, discovery and transformation throughout the classes. I have watched their self confidence in their ability to express themselves grow over the course of the class.

I am acutely aware of the thin line between us. As a sexual abuse victim, I acted out of anger and fear, just as many of the women in the detention facilities have. While teaching the class, I have seen women who have had the same issues I have had, not inmates. 

I choose to address child abuse and trauma in my art practice. The Bureau of Justice study in 2006 found that 57% of incarcerated women in state prisons had reported sexual abuse before they were admitted. The detention center reports that 80% of the population has reported sexual abuse. A large portion of the population has suffered from the type of trauma in which I specialize. Using art to help them strive towards wholeness is incredibly important to me.