Alumna Makes Art Expression Available to Incarcerated Teens

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Alumna Makes Art Expression Available to Incarcerated Teens

Lauren Adelman (MA '05) believes everyone can benefit from artistic expression, even the most troubled teens.

While a second year student in Steinhardt's art education program, Lauren Adelman created "Art and Social Activism: A Visual Research Project," an outreach program that enabled six incarcerated young women to produce socially active art and literature on postcards that were mass-produced, distributed, and displayed to their peers. Adelman's project was made possible by a $1,000 award from Steinhardt's Dean's Grants for Student Research, which covered printing, mailing, and materials. The postcards, which were mailed to judges, lawyers, and other youth, questioned the allocation of public funding, and spoke of the inmates' feelings about racism and the loss of freedom.

Adelman is now a full-time art and economics teacher at Community Prep High School in Brooklyn, a transitional school for youth who have been in prison.

She conducted the Art and Social Activism project at the Crossroads Juvenile Facility in East New York while the teens were awaiting sentencing for their crimes. Adelman worked with her students for an hour and a half each week, creating poems, essays, and artwork, and believes the project made the young women feel a sense of freedom through art.

"For them to have a voice in the outside world while they're confined behind bars is pretty powerful," Adelman said.