Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project is a visual and literary arts project that connects teaching artists and scholars to men at Stateville Prison through classes, workshops and guest lectures. Classes offered include subjects ranging from poetry, visual arts, film study to history. Classes are held once a week, on a 14 week semester schedule. Each course will result in finished projects-visual art, creative writing or scholarly works-with specific audiences/neighborhoods in mind. These works are exhibited and read in neighborhood galleries or cultural centers. Over the course of an academic semester, artists and scholars on the inside and outside address key questions: What can we learn from each other?; Who are our audiences?; What materials and methods best relate our concerns?; What can we say from inside a maximum security prison?
The arts have always provided a unique vocabulary for discussing challenging topics and pushing the boundaries of our thinking. The goal of P+NAP is to foster this kind of exploratory thinking with incarcerated students at Stateville, who have a wealth of knowledge and keen perspectives to share about the world around us.