Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project is a visual arts and humanities project that connects teaching artists and scholars to men at Stateville Maximum Security Prison through classes, workshops and guest lectures. Classes offered include subjects ranging from poetry, visual arts, and film study to political theory, social studies, and history. Classes are held once a week, on a 14 week semester schedule. Each course results in finished projects—visual art, creative writing and critical essays—with specific audiences and neighborhoods in mind. These works are then exhibited and read in neighborhood galleries and 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 and humanities have always provided essential vocabularies 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.