Transforming Prison Life Through Art
Join the Wende Museum for a panel discussion about the transformative power of art in prisons with Annie Buckley, artist, writer, and founding director of Prison Arts Collective; Meetra Johansen, social entrepreneur, curator, and founding director of Huma House; Christian Branscombe, artist and independent coach who served 24 years in prison; artist and art teacher Ezequiel Gonzalez, who served 12 years in prison before his 23-year sentence was commuted by Governor Brown and he was subsequently deported to Mexico; and Kenneth Webb, a self-taught artist who was incarcerated when he was 18 years old and is serving a life sentence. Gonzalez will participate via zoom from Mexico; Webb will phone in from his prison cell.
About Prison Arts Collective: In 2023, Prison Arts Collective (PAC) celebrated a decade of expanding access to the transformative power of the arts for communities impacted by incarceration. The works by artists participating in Prison Arts Collective classes included here showcase the creativity and voices of artists experiencing the physical and psychic limitations that come with incarceration. These artworks are from various years and institutions since PAC’s emergence. PAC’s model prioritizes creating a safe space for creative practice and includes art history and reflection. Classes include collaborative workshops, integrated arts, and the only comprehensive Arts Facilitator Training and mentoring program for currently incarcerated people in the country. PAC is based on the idea that art is a human right and envisions a collaborative and inclusive society where everyone has access to the arts to promote wellbeing and empowerment. PAC was founded in 2013 by artist and writer Annie Buckley, who remains the organization’s director and is a professor and Associate Dean at San Diego State University. Since 2013, PAC has brought transformative arts programming to over 7,000 people in fourteen correctional institutions across California and has affiliations with Cal Poly Humboldt; California State University, San Bernardino; Sacramento State University; and University of California, Irvine. PAC is supported by the California Arts Council, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.
About Huma House: Huma House, a 501(c)(3) organization located in Los Angeles, California, was established with the knowledge that art exhibitions can serve as a potent activist tool. Their core mission revolves around the belief that art can be a transformative force, providing alternative healing methods that guide nations towards peace and enable youth to tap into their full potential. Initially gaining prominence for their powerful and thought-provoking art exhibitions, Huma House was bolstered by profound community support. These exhibitions not only showcased the talent of artists but also illuminated the pressing issues faced by grassroots movements. With the sustained support from the community, these exhibitions expanded, and Huma House began spotlighting artists from these movements on an international stage. In addition to their art exhibitions, Huma House runs an art education program in South Central Los Angeles. This program provides local teens with tools and opportunities to express themselves through art. Co-founded by Meetra Johansen and Tobias Tubbs, Huma House continues its commitment to the community and the transformative power of art in South Central Los Angeles.
A light reception in the garden will follow the program.