Chair of the Art Education Department, Dr. Dave Gussak was recently invited to take part in the Art et Prison Roundtable Discussion in Paris. He described the experience as “truly amazing” and shared some of the highlights of his experience with us.
The roundtable discussion was a collaboration of experts across many fields to discuss the benefits of prisoners making art while incarcerated. Tim Robinson, director of the Koestler Trust in Great Britain (an organisation dedicated to assisting offenders by encouraging them to participate in the arts) and Peter Echtermeyer (founder of the Art in Prison Berlin program) were among those who participated as well as Armaud Gaillard, a sociologist from France. The discussion was paired with an art exhibit at the Dorothy Gallery featuring the art of the incarcerated.
Through the roundtable discussion and the exhibit, with the help of a translator, the group bridged the language barrier to come to conclusions regarding benefits, both societal and personal, of prisoners making art. In particular, they underscored the belief that “art making recreates and strengthens identity while removing the detrimental and limited label of ‘inmate.’” They concluded that more work is needed to further develop this area of research.
Dr. Gussak stated that he looks forward to continuing this work and collaborating online and in person with his new-found friends and colleagues. In summarizing his experience he said : “I truly believe this was just the beginning”
We thank Dr. Gussak for sharing his experience with us and look forward to hearing about more developments in this area. For more information, see the links below.
The Koestler Trust’s website: http://www.koestlertrust.org.uk/
To keep up with Dr. Gussak’s work, follow him here: https://www.facebook.com/IntheCrossroadsofArtTherapy
Or visit his Psychology Today blog for more information about forensic art therapy: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/art-trial