Project PAINT: the Prison Arts INiTiative

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Project PAINT: the Prison Arts INiTiative began as an entirely
volunteer-run organization in March 2013. Founding Director Laura
Pecenco had been doing research on prison arts programming for her PhD
in Sociology at the University of California, San Diego starting in
2011, and wanted to understand these programs from the inside. However, 
California had completely defunded the statewide Arts-in-Corrections (AIC)
program in 2010, and no formal visual arts program existed at San
Diego’s Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility any longer. Laura
Pecenco reached out to UC San Diego’s Crafts Center faculty members, and
mixed media artist Kathleen Mitchell immediately volunteered. Additional
volunteers soon came on board. Project PAINT operated as a volunteer
program until Spring 2014, when the California Department of Corrections
and Rehabilitation announced that it would be refunding AIC as a “pilot
program” in some of the state’s prisons. Project PAINT joined forces
with the William James Association’s Prison Art Project, the progenitors
of AIC back in 1977, and received a contract to teach classes at RJDCF
for 2014-2015. Project PAINT has been funded every year since, and as of
2018, AIC has returned to every California state prison. Today Project
PAINT employs 10 professional artists and operates on two yards at
RJDCF, providing multiple weekly classes in a variety of artistic
techniques.

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