Wounded angel. Haavoittunut Enkeli. #custodyart

IMG_4126WOUNDED ANGEL, 2008 [by “Steph” and “Vincent”]

This unframed painting on raw canvas (65″ x 76″) was made during my therapeutic art classes at a youth custody centre. Read below to find out its creation.





Many of the youth I currently work with are involved with the juvenile justice system in one way or another. I LOVED my time volunteering at Burnaby Youth Custody Centre in 2006-2008. It started with the “Friday Art Class,” then it turned into the “Friday Art Classes,” then “Monday, Wednesday, Friday” etc. etc.!  The  residents taught me so much of the healing power of art and that there are no bad kids, just bad decisions.

I had only one rule: NO CENSORSHIP while in my art class, and it really is a powerful rule. Allowing free expression fosters camaraderie. Art is also a tool to educate the youth on conflict resolution and to act as a way to practice restorative justice.

Restorative justice fosters dialogue between victim and offender shows the highest rates of victim satisfaction and offender accountability. – Wikipedia

A particular incident led to an unusual relationship between two residents. A young woman and young man (in their mid teens) had had an altercation over the issue “snitching.” The staff had requested they not be allowed to participate in my art classes as a form of “punishment.” I asked that instead of feeding the tension by denying them art sessions, I work with them together. The staff graciously accepted my request. “Steph” and “Vincent” went on to form a deep bond as they created together. They produced a number of astounding large paintings.

It was an EXTRAORDINARY experience for all of us.

This painting was created after “Steph” returned to custody broken and worn-down by an unsuccessful release. “Vincent” was very interested in art history and inspired by the original painting “Haavoittunut Enkeli” by Finnish artist Hugo Simberg, he suggested that he and “Steph” work on a new large piece together to represent helping “Steph” recover and embracing her without judgment.

For more custody art, go to: http://klasssockmonkey.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/custody-art-and-art-therapy-healingpowerofart-corrections/

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