Continuing to highlight organizations that use the arts to advance social justice, we now feature a program at Boston College that serves incarcerated women.
At Boston College, the Prison Arts Outreach program has joined arts and social justice since 2008. Associate Professor Crystal Tiala, a scenic designer in the Theater Department, created the program and also serves as Chair of the Boston College Arts Council. Students Carlie Hackmann, Isabelle Walkey, and Teddy O’Brien are co-presidents of the group. All three were instrumental in getting the program designated as an official student-run organization in 2019.
The Prison Arts Outreach program allows students to share their artistic passions with incarcerated women. A student committee gathers to plan fun and creative workshops, student orientation and training is required, and transportation is provided to local prisons (although the pandemic has restricted visits this year).
According to its mission, the Prison Arts Outrach program is designed “to bring joy and a healthy outlet to incarcerated women in Massachusetts through art. Prison Arts Outreach is committed to reducing the stigma against incarcerated individuals through educating the students and faculty at Boston College. We recognize that the prison industrial complex, systemic racism, and class inequality play an integral role in the United States incarceration system and that these things must be addressed in order to reform prisons.”
We spoke with co-president Carlie Hackmann who told us that approximately twenty-five students are involved in the program this year. Students are welcome from all majors and departments; Hackmann herself is a pre-law student. Some popular and favorite workshops that the students have planned include origami, improv, and creative writing.
In addition to providing workshops to incarcerated women, the organization also plans and promotes events for the Boston College community. Recently, Ricky Kidd was engaged to speak. Kidd was exonerated and released in 2019 after wrongfully being imprisoned for twenty-three years.
To learn more about the Prison Arts Outreach program and Arts and Social Justice at Boston College, click here to visit their website.