• S. M. Pruis

Keeping the Faith 2018: The Prison Project Anthology

On November 18, 2018, I got to witness the power of words. After months of working with incarcerated women through the KTF arts program (KTF---the Prison Project), its impact was made obvious during the culminating performance in Mission Creek Corrections Center. The radical vulnerability, the healing, the reshaping of personal narratives, & the invitation to see the humanity in every person around you...all of it astounded me.

A little background on KTF:

The Pat Graney Company has conducted KTF, a three-month program of movement, writing, & visual art, in Washington State women’s prisons since 1995. Each year, the program culminates in performances where the participating women perform & display their visual art for 100 members of the general public as well as for over 300 of their incarcerated peers & prison staff. Keeping the Faith creates a rare forum for cultural development among incarcerated women by facilitating the exploration and expression of both individual & collective identity.

The program consists of dance, creative writing, American Sign Language, & visual art classes that encourage participants to explore some of the issues that led to their initial incarceration. A final anthology showcases writings of the KTF 2018 participants alongside photographs of their artwork & of the culminating performances that took place in November of 2018.

For that year’s program, the KTF team led women in exploring home as a concept, with attention to memory, family, & autobiography. The theme “Home” helped the women to focus their construction of personal narratives, in which they accepted responsibility, reclaimed their agency, recognized circumstances out of their control &, finally, were able to embrace self-compassion. The backdrop for the final performance was composed of cloth collages participants made to replicate their homes.

Luckily, the final performance wasn't the end of my time with KTF. Over the following weeks, I had the opportunity to design an anthology of artwork by the women who attended our workshops, which spanned from March to November, with an emphasis on performance for the last couple months. The layout is a bit sloppy (thanks Word to PDF), but the content is incredible, & I'm happy to share it with you. Please read, &, if you are able, donate to the program.

You can access the KTF 2018 Prison Project Anthology PDF here.

Fun fact: the page order is reversed, so you'll see the back cover first. Scroll all the way down to start at the beginning. Or find meaning by navigating back through time & establishing your own narrative---that's what the participants did in workshops all through the year. (Seriously though, it's going to be much easier to read if you scroll to the bottom & ascend from there.)

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