Alcatraz Cellblock Gallery, Alcatraz National Park, March 4- end of August, 9-6:40 Daily
April 12, 2 PM: Live performance by Poetic Justice Project

Telling Our Stories features the diverse and highly talented visual artists of the San Quentin Prison Arts Project, stunning photo portraits of inmates by Peter Merts, and the amazing writing of the on-going Brothers-in-Pen group, led by Zoe Mullery.

Paintings and drawings tell the stories of the inmates through images of personal history, fantasy, history and humor. The silkscreens created in San Quentin in collaboration with the San Francisco Print Collective have political and personal themes, and the large-scale photo portraits of writers from Brothers-in-Pen present a personal depth and vulnerability that can touch the viewer with the portraits’ honesty and respect. In addition, copies of Brothers-in-Pen will be available for perusing at the gallery and some writing will be posted.

Prison Arts Project is the primary program of the William James Association, which has been sponsoring art programs in prisons and juvenile justice facilities since 1977. Art workshops teach self-discipline, problem-solving, and concentration through absorption in a specific creative endeavor. Prison Arts Project is one of the few remaining non-profit arts programs in the California prisons. It is based on the former Arts-in-Corrections program of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Arts-in-Corrections, which provided art, music, theater and writing programs in all California state prisons, was ended by the state in 2010 due to budget cuts, after 30 years of success in lowering recidivism and helping tens of thousands of inmates. There are efforts underway now to bring statewide arts programs back.

In addition, Prison Arts Project and the National Park Service are co-sponsoring Poetic Justice Project’s April 12 performance of IN THE KITCHEN WITH A KNIFE. The play, an interactive murder mystery set in prison, is performed by formerly incarcerated actors. A program of the William James Association, Poetic Justice Project is a groundbreaking theater group based in Santa Maria. The event celebrates the exhibit and the power of arts for rehabilitation.