Over These Prison Walls is a program that brings art students from Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA) to Donald E. Long Juvenile Detention Home in northeast Portland. We teach art and writing workshops to the young people in detention there, most of whom are impacted by Measure 11 (mandatory sentencing) and face long prison sentences ahead of them.
OTPW was founded at PNCA in 2007 by professor Barry Sanders as part of his “Prisons, Pain, and Punishment” course, and continues today with the additional support of Program Coordinator Lauren Heagerty and 13 incredible, dedicated, and creative undergraduates.
The weekly workshops provide DEL students the opportunity to creatively express themselves and explore themes of visual and written storytelling, language, and literacy. It has been a meaningful experience for both groups of young people each year it has run.
One of the most important aspects of this program is that it brings the voices of these young people to a wider audience: the work produced in the weekly sessions is published in a zine at the end of the semester, which is distributed widely to the DEL students, their families, the PNCA community, and well beyond.
Additionally, there will be group gallery show at PNCA in February 2014, which will include original work by the youth in detention, as well as contributions from PNCA students and faculty, and other artists in the community.