Picturing Writing:Fostering Literacy through Art
Four or five times a year the BoulderReads! staff conducts a series of art and writing workshops at the library and the Boulder County Jail. Workshop participants are led through a series of mini-lessons in watercolor painting, poetry writing, and prose writing, and over the course of each workshop every student completes a book.
Examples of participants' work:
The art and writing workshops are made possible by grants from Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Colorado Relay, the Community Foundation Lotus Fund, and the Boulder County Jail.
The workshops are modeled after the Picturing Writing:Fostering Literacy through Art created and conducted by Beth Olshansky of the University of New Hampshire (see www.picturingwriting.org for more information). Her workshops are primarily structured for teachers working with children during a regular school year; the BoulderReads! staff has modified the approach for use with adults over only a six-day period or six-week period.
Comments from women inmates about the art and writing workshop:
"I so much enjoyed the outlet you provided. You made our minds travel beyond these walls."
"It's amazing to see finished poems by people who never thought they could even write."
"Painting connected my 'self' back to my 'self' and helped me remember I'm valuable."
"I know what to do next time I want to do drugs -- just do this instead."
"It was a value to me because I learned that art can be fun in lots of ways, and I got to express my views of things."
"It helped me see that I'm valuable as a person and that I have a flair for art. It made me feel good."
"I forgot I could do other things besides drugs and drinking."
"I believe I will take more interest in reading and writing in the future."
"It brought me out of myself and helped me feel better about myself."
Comments from male inmates about the art and writing workshop:
"It was really valuable and I got to experience something I could do with my kids."
"This class made me feel worthwhile, and helped me to appreciate learning and renew values I already had."
"It gives me a sense of accomplishment."
"I have never tried to express myself through art before."
"I can't wait to be able to read it to my child."
"Out of my six classes at the jail, this one was by far the most enjoyable."
"I do have a new interest in writing my own poetry."
"They were valuable to me because it was a way to open up in a hostile environment."
"This is the BEST class I have had while in the jail. It brought the artist within me out."