AUBURN – “Art on the Inside,” an exhibition of 31 drawings and photographs by students of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project, is on display at Auburn University’s Biggin Gallery through July 27. Gallery hours are 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
The exhibition is presented by Auburn’s Department of Art in the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of Psychology’s Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project.
The Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project evolved from the vision of a dedicated group of artists, writers and scholars who believe that knowledge and creative development can be life changing.
In its initial phase, the project was known as the Alabama Prison Arts Initiative and received its first funding from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2003. The Carolyn Marshall Draughon Center for the Arts and Humanities in the College of Liberal Arts at Auburn University served as the fiscal agent for the small initiative.
In 2004, the project was renamed the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project and became a full-time program of the Center for the Arts and Humanities with an administrative position dedicated to the growth of the program.
“The project’s goals have always been to place rich, creative and intellectual opportunities in Alabama’s prisons, a remarkably underserved population,” said Director Kyes Stevens.
The project grew from a single poet teaching in one prison to a pool of more than 35 writers, artists, scholars and visiting writers teaching in 12 correctional facilities in Alabama. Course offerings have grown from poetry and creative writing to Southern literature, photography, African American literature, Alabama history, drawing and other art classes.
On Jan. 1, 2008, the project moved to the Department of Psychology in the College of Liberal Arts. Stevens said the move to this highly regarded academic department has served to strengthen the project on several fronts.
Auburn graduate students and faculty are now at work both to research the effects of the project’s programming and to develop ways to work with more faculty at Auburn to share the rich educational resources of the university with this community in Alabama. In addition, the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project is partnering with the College of Education to develop literacy training as part of the project’s programming.
Representatives of the project continue to present at national and international conferences on this program and have academic articles under review for publication.