Arts in Corrections

Poetry teaching artist, Laura Phillips during Arts in Correction programming at the Mariposa County Adult Detention Facility, 2022

Arts in Corrections (AIC) is a program for system engaged individuals at the Mariposa County Adult Detention Facility and a partnership program with the Mariposa County Sheriff Office offering poetry workshops to every inmate in the facility on an ongoing basis. The program is designed to: 

  • Develop the artistic skills of incarcerated individuals through sequential, hands-on learning; 
  • Promote life skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and positive self-expression; 
  • Develop long-term, mutually beneficial relationships between arts organizations, teaching artists, and the incarcerated population in Mariposa.

Most importantly, it utilizes the arts as an equalizer that can create a level playing field where underrepresented voices can be heard, amplified and engaged.

About the Poetry

Through this program, participants are introduced to the field of poetry and the knowledge of poetic devices through a variety of exercises, exposure (reading aloud/listening), and facilitated discussion of  published poems; offered a supportive and instructional environment for the creation and workshopping of original poetry; and given the opportunity to share their finished pieces in poetry readings. This program is taught by local poet and author, Laura Phillips. Each year a chapbook (left) of selected poems is illustrated by a local artist and published to support the program.

In May, 2021, Arts in Corrections received special programming from nationally renowned poets, Suzanne Buffam and Anna Maria Hong, facilitated by author and poet, Megan Levad. The virtual poetry reading was designed to highlight the Arts Council’s ongoing poetry initiatives and allowed AIC participants to engage in conversation with (and read their work to) established and authored poets. The event was attended by local students and educators, Arts Council Members, and featured a special reading from Mariposa County Poetry Out Loud Finalist, Sydney Jacobs.

This program is supported by the The Impact Projects grant program, which intends to support collaborative projects that center artists and artistic practice in responding to issues facing California, including the pervasive social, political, and economic inequalities experienced by those communities most vulnerable to, and adversely affected by, the COVID-19 pandemic. This program prioritizes local artists and forms of arts and cultural expression that are unique to, and/or historically rooted in, the specific communities to be served.