Project at Florence Crane Facility

Coldwater, Michigan

In 2000, The Michigan Washtenaw County Council for the Arts awarded a mini grant for a collage workshop in Florence Crane Facility for Women in Coldwater, Michigan. Under the auspices of The American Friends Committee, Ann Arbor women artists, led by Carol, conducted a series of workshops over a period of two years. Our purpose was to encourage creative expression and provided technical assistance as we introduced creative workshops and pre-approved art materials.
Primarily greeting cards were made by the women inmates to mail out of the prison to family members and friends.
The workshops were considered a success by inmates and the Michigan Department of Corrections.
It was often difficult to get the women inmates to "play" as this is a mental state rarely encouraged in prison, and as we
went along we introduced new exercises such as surrealist Dada games and the drawing of mandalas. Some little books
and mandala drawings made by the women were included for two years in the Annual Exhibition of Prisoner's Art
at the University of Michigan.
The mere presence and individuality of the visiting volunteer artists seemed to be an inspiration to the prisoners,
and they were always eager to see any work by the artists that we were allowed to take into the facility.
Artists volunteering were Carol Morris (Collage), A. J. Winchester (Art Therapist), Gretchen Elsner-Somer (Film),
Jane Bunge-Nofke (Bronze Sculpture), Ann Blackwell (Fiber Arts) and Nancy Lautinbach (Multi-Media).
In 2003, The Florence Crane Facility moved the female inmates to Plymouth, near Detroit, and those workshops ended.
See next page for current project.

An appreciative response by the women far exceeded everyone's expectations.

Here are some comments from the participants;

"This art workshop has been a welcomed balm for my shattered spirit. For the past several weeks, I have shared company, laughs and art with so many talented women. This workshop has given me a more positive thing to look forward to in this
gloomy place called prison. Please come again and again."
"Being incarcerated presents many hardships and let-downs that one must endure. Through the workshop, I have been able
to appreciate various expressions and emotions through art forms. I have learned how important unity is, and I have seen
my own self-worth. I have found in me a hidden beauty. It has provided a means for growth, self-esteem and expression."
"I have learned about the various art forms and also to utilize art as a means of release or escape."
"This class has offered me the time and sense to be free within myself, and to put it out for others to see. Learning self-expression has allowed me time to focus or not focus on my present surroundings, but to express my thoughts
and emotions in a positive manner."

In 2003, the women inmates at Florence Crane Facility were moved to a facility in Plymouth Michigan, and the workshops ended.


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