Strong Women, Secure Families
Community-Building on Display during Museum Workshop
Allentown, PA—The Allentown Art Museum of the Lehigh Valley joined THE PROGRAM for Women and Families again this summer to implement Transitions 2012, a six-week artist-in-residence program conducted for clients of THE PROGRAM for Women and Families Day Program. Artwork created by Transitions participants are featured in an exhibition that continues through July 29, 2012, in the Museum’s Community Gallery.
Through counseling, workshops, and projects, THE PROGRAM for Women and Families Day Program supports the integration of female offenders as they prepare to phase out of the criminal justice system and become working members of the Lehigh Valley community. Transitions, a program designed to introduce clients of THE PROGRAM to art, is an excellent example of how nonprofit organizations with different missions work together toward a common goal. The Allentown Art Museum supports this endeavor by encouraging the women to see art as a cultural resource, and by promoting self-actualization through the act of creation. “During their time here, the women are taught skills that will benefit them both personally and in the workplace, and the Museum is presented as a safe, welcoming space where they can visit and reconnect with their families,” says Kathy Odorizzi, Arts in Education and School Programs Manager at the Museum. Ensuring that women leave the criminal justice system with the skills necessary to secure and maintain employment and build strong interpersonal relationships leads to a stronger community is the ultimate goal.
“This has been a great learning experience, which I will never forget! I will take all the knowledge with me and apply it in everyday life,” said workshop participant Kimberly. “This experience made me a stronger and better person because of it. It showed me how important the little things in life really are,” said Stephanie. “I learned things in the art project I will be able to pass down to my son,” said Tabatha. And,
“You helped me to create something beautiful not just on the outside but on the inside too,” said Chianne.
Transitions 2012, sponsored by both agencies and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, is also supported in part by The Rider-Pool Foundation and the Fowler Family. The project brought artists-in-residence Cassandra Stancil Gunkel and Marilyn Hazelton to work with women at this crucial point in their rehabilitation. Gunkel, who specializes in fiber art, led participants in textile-related projects. Hazelton, a writer and poet, conducted writing projects to encourage discussion, reflection, and self-expression.
This is the tenth artist-in-residence program conducted by the Allentown Art Museum and THE PROGRAM for Women and Families since 2000, and the fourth to culminate in an exhibition at the Museum. The residency concluded on Friday, July 13, 2012.
For more information on supporting programs that bring art to people in our community, contact the Allentown Art Museum at 610-432-4333, ext. 153, or THE PROGRAM for Women and Families at 610-433-6556.