Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Classes You Didn't Know You Could Take: Art & Restorative Justice

Q&A with Heather Roessler about Art 596-03

Classes You Didn't Know You Could Take:  Art & Restorative Justice

Heather Roessler

by PSFA Stories Team

July 8, 2021

Heather Roessler, MFA, Program Coordinator, Prison Arts Collective

Art & Restorative Justice (Art 596-03 #33276)

Units: 3

Are there any Prerequisites?: No
Face to Face, with accommodations for Remote programming (please reach out to the instructor)

How I would describe this class to someone I met in line at the coffee cart:

This class gives students who want to teach and work within their communities (particularly underserved populations) an opportunity to mentor, support, and engage in social activism through arts education. But it is not limited to the creative process (whether that be through visual, writing, music, etc.) as the Prison Arts Collective (partnered with the university) fosters- self-awareness, historical and contemporary exploration, reflection, communication, leadership, and community!

Who should definitely take this class?

You should definitely take this class if you are interested in working with your community, love creating art, teaching, and helping others.

Who should not take this class?

Anyone can take this class, even if you are not an “artist,” as we have plenty of resources and help to structure a class that fits your ability. Any class that has a rehabilitative quality (writing, in place of artmaking) can be led. Collaborations are likely, and we can gauge strengths in the process of where to place work for individual students. If you have any issues with working in prisons, please reach out to the instructor to discuss concerns.

Why I’m enthusiastic about teaching this class:

I have been working with the Prison Arts Collective for 7 years, using my background in Psychology and Art to help my community of underserved students to build self-awareness, heal, and connect through education, artmaking, and leadership opportunities to grow beyond the walls of incarceration.

Why I love this subject:

It is inspiring to help those who are usually stigmatized and forgotten, and to provide them the tools that have helped me and so many others. These students are eager to learn, grow, and create together!

How I’m preparing for this class:

I have been preparing for this class since I began my social activism and journey with Prison Arts Collective in 2014. I have worn many hats over the years, and I have personally visited 8 of the 13 prisons in our program. I have taught and/or trained students on the inside and I would love the opportunity to teach students on the outside to become community activists, more versatile teachers, and to gain the rewarding experiences that I have!

Three things you’ll learn/do in this class:

1. Gain knowledge of the history and impact of restorative justice practices.

2. Research the impact of arts on individuals/communities in the carceral system.

3. Explore the role art plays in empowering individuals, communities, and evolving paradigms.

Top three reasons you should study with me:

1. I have had many years of experience working in prisons, so I am a great resource and mentor for this class.

2. I have personally used art and education to help myself learn, grow, and heal and I am passionate about sharing that with others.

3. Education and art should be accessible to everyone, and I feel it is my duty to inspire others to utilize their power to promote positive change.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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