Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Power of Art to Transform Lives

Silk Collage by Jean Bourque
20 x 16 on Canvas (Sold)

This past Friday, I went to the Camille Griffin Graham Correctional Institute at the women's prison on Broad River Road in Columbia SC; to see a play put on by Sisterhood Productions. They presented "Hidden Secrets" to the prison community with 8 different skits; stitched together with the help of a psychologist telling the stories of her clients. The pain of growing up in hostile environments filled with drugs, alcohol, violence, and abuse were acted out before our eyes. The skits moved on to portray the victims of crimes and the abuse they suffer when having their identity stolen, elder and sexual abuse. The topics brought out in the skits were portrayed so painfully real with deep emotions, one had the feeling of watching a professional theater group. It brought tears to my eyes several times and I am not one to cry. When I looked around during intermission; I saw many inmates crying. I could see how the arts touched each and everyone of us in that room.

The Sisterhood Productions put together a team of 8 inmates that became writers to develop the story lines and through the process shared, cried, laughed, bonded and healed together. For some, they had never thought about the victim's and what effect it has on them. The skits demonstrated the victim's suffering and the effects of crime. In the process; we learned many of these women are victims, too. Through art; they are learning to cope with their own pain in new ways. In addition to the writers and actors of the Sisterhood Productions; there were artists that painted the backdrop and scenes for the play as well as creating the stage sets and programs. You would have been amazed at the talent. This group of inmates and many in the audience have grown through the healing ability of art.

I spoke with the warden about this wonderful way of giving the women help, many for the first time are getting a new sense of direction and realizing they are talented. There were many wonderful volunteers from the art and theater community that assisted the Sisterhood Productions in making their "Hidden Secrets" a healing process. You know who you are and they are very thankful. They even made beautiful thank you cards for all the volunteers and these were nicer than many you see in card and gift shops. The warden gave me permission to blog about this as long as I didn't use any names. I do want to express my appreciation for being invited to this very special healing event.


I am asking anyone that has any art supplies they would like to donate for the prisons to please drop them off at the Cultural Center at 930 Richland Ave. Columbia, SC. If you know where the Chamber of Commerce is located; they are in the same building.

with female inmates. If you would be interested in hearing more, or doing a workshop or volunteer to teach a class or do an art demo; please contact Chuck at the Cultural Council via email at or call the Cultural Council. Through art; lives can be transformed.

1 comment:

harriett said...

Wonderful post! Art can indeed calm the stressed, give insight to the dense, and otherwise create bridges. This sounds like a memorable experience.