In June of 2010 William James Association received the ChangeMaker Award from San Franciscoâ€™s Intersection for the Arts. The Award â€œcelebrates artists and organizations making a profound impact in the worldâ€¦ who inspire collaboration; embrace experimentation, integrity, and evolution; and encourage civic and community exchange and engagement.â€
Prison/Culture, published by City Lights in 2010, investigates the culture of incarceration as an integral part of the American experience through a compilation of stunning and often heartrending art by inmates and other artists. It features text about the William James Association and the San Quentin Art Program and images of artwork by San Quentin artists.
Participants in the San Quentin Arts Program have produced anthologies, plays, paintings and prints, as well as musical compositions, which have been rendered for institutional as well as public engagement wherever possible. Working with the Marin Shakespeare Company, San Quentin Theater Arts participants have produced and performed three plays over the past 3 years: Romeo and Juliet (2010), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2009), and Much Ado About Nothing (2008). In the June 2010 performance, 10 inmates along with 5 other non-inmate actors performed William Shakespeareâ€™s Romeo and Juliet to an audience of approximately 200 hundred other inmates, prison staff and volunteers, news reporters and outside guests.
Brothers in Pen is the name of the creative writing group, the members have produced three anthologies: “Brothers in Pen,” “A Means of Escape,” and “Tragedy, Struggle and Hope,” highlighting the talents, through the written word, of the men of San Quentin. In the latter, Tobias Wolff (This Boyâ€™s Life) contributed the foreword.
The painting and printing classes have produced works of art in a diversity media.
Several prints have been accepted for inclusion in the permanent collection of the Library of Congress, including Blocks Off the Block, a 2010 edition of 35 hand-bound and hand-printed books of original linocut prints. The Tower Book was awarded the blue ribbon at the 2009 Marin County Fair Fine Art Exhibit. A collaborative piece on censorship, “Ill of Rights,” created by SQ printmakers and printed at SF Center for the Bookâ€™s ROADWORKS: Steamroller Prints in 2008, was selected for the County Fair Fine Art Exhibit.
In 2009, the Dalai Lama recognized SQ Artist Facilitator Steve Emrick as an Unsung Hero of Compassion. Presented to â€œindividuals who, through their loving kindness and service to others, have made their communities and our world a better place,â€ Steve received this honor for his lifelong work in providing meaningful arts experiences in correctional facilities.
In 2009, Peter Mertsâ€™ Slideshow of the SQ Arts program is featured on Photo Philanthropy â€“ a website dedicated to showcasing photo documentaries. Peter’ beautiful photography offers people from the outside a view into the power and beauty of what is happening in the 20Ã—40 box that is the SQ Art Studio.
Also in 2009, Prominent writers Junot Diaz, Tobias Wolff and renown clown/doctor Patch Adams visited the program to share work and insights.