Meet our Team
Laura Pecenco, Ph.D. is the Founding Director of Project PAINT: The Prison Arts INiTiative. In addition to her oversight of instructors and coordination with the William James Association, California Arts Council and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, she serves as Research Analyst and assists Arts-in-Corrections (AIC) more broadly. Pecenco is an Associate Professor of Sociology at San Diego Miramar College; prior to this, she was an adjunct instructor at UC San Diego; University of San Diego; and San Diego Mesa College. She serves as Faculty Advisor for the Miramar Urban Scholars Union, an organization for formerly incarcerated and system-impacted students.
Pecenco regularly presents at academic and AIC conferences on the topic of prison arts. In 2015, she received her Ph.D. in Sociology at the University of California, San Diego, completing her dissertation on prison arts creation. Pecenco earned her M.A. in Sociology from UC San Diego in 2010, and her B.A. in Sociology, with Highest Honors, from UC Berkeley in 2006. Prior to founding Project PAINT, Pecenco worked in various capacities in prisons since 2003. She began her work as a tutor for a GED program at San Quentin State Prison, through a program run through the UC Berkeley. Currently, she is also a charter member of the Justice Arts Coalition and a member of the RJDCF Warden’s Advisory Committee, the San Diego Reentry Roundtable and its Education Committee, the San Diego and Imperial Counties Community College Association Regional Restorative Justice Steering Committee, and the California Lawyers for the Arts San Diego Steering Committee.
Pecenco also owns her own jewelry company, and specializes in working with bronze and sterling silver, using a variety of metal-smithing techniques. She has curated prison arts exhibitions at the Oceanside Museum of Art, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Glashaus Mainspace Gallery, Kruglak Gallery, Pikku Gallery, RJDCF, the Hill Street Country Club Gallery, Art Produce Gallery, and Love Library.
Kathleen Mitchell is a mixed media artist who owns and operates a glassblowing studio/school in the burgeoning arts district of Barrio Logan in San Diego and is Project PAINT’s Lead Teaching Artist. She has studied under many famed artists, both in and out of the glass community, notably Italo Scanga, Bertil Vallien, Clifford Rainy, and the Italian Maestros Elio Quarisa and Pino Signoretto. Mitchell was a glassblowing and lampworking instructor at the UC San Diego’s lauded Crafts Center until its closing in September 2012.
Mitchell began as the lead instructor for the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility 2014. Mitchell then served as the lead 3-D and assistant 2-D instructor for the “Drawing, Painting, & Sculpting” classes at RJDCF, under contract with the California Arts Council. She taught a 40-week “Arts Immersion” course and a 12-week “Storytelling & Bookmaking” class in 2015-2016, and a 40-week “Arts Survey” course, a 10-week “Storytelling & Bookmaking” course, and a 12-hour intensive Comic Workshop in 2016-2017. Mitchell’s current 40-week course is “Art as Social Practice.” Several of her students have work in the Future IDs exhibition at Alcatraz Island through October 2019. In addition, Mitchell conceived and created a collaborative program pairing incarcerated artists who are participants of Project PAINT with professional artists in San Diego and Los Angeles. This body of work, Inside/Outside, will be exhibited at a major gallery in San Diego this spring.
In addition to her work with Project PAINT, maintaining a busy studio practice, and preparing for a solo exhibition of her work in April 2019, Mitchell serves as Co-Director of the Feminist Image Group (FIG), Secretary of Allied Craftsmen San Diego, and is immediate past Education Chair for the Art Glass Association of Southern California.
Robin McNulty is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and nonprofit administrator based in San Diego, California. She has exhibited and performed throughout the U.S. and Canada, most notably at the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, MA), Luhring Augustine (New York, NY), Hatch Gallery (Vancouver, BC), and Concordia University (Montreal, QC). She is the recipient of research grants through Tufts University and the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Graduate Teaching Assistantship awards, and is a member of the LA County Arts Ed Roundtable, the NYC Museum Educators Roundtable and the San Diego Reentry Roundtable.
Robin works in development at Second Chance, a non-profit that disrupts the cycles of incarceration and poverty by helping youth and adults achieve self-sufficiency and in communications at the CA Association of Environmental Professionals. Since 2015 she has served as a teaching artist for Project PAINT at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility and most recently taught Printed Ephemera (printmaking) and Paper Goods (paper-based projects). She earned a BFA from the University of British Columbia and an MFA from Tufts University.