Mental Health Monday Prison Art Programs

U.S. prison arts programs date back to the late 19th century. Research indicates such programs can positively affect social-emotional, educational, vocational, disciplinary, community, and policy outcomes. In this Virtual Mental Health Monday, Kyes Stephens of APAEP and Jeanie Thompson of AWF, along with former students, will share with us the history of their work and what they have learned along the way.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER(S) // Kyes Stevens, APAEP Founder and Director, is the founder and director of the Alabama Prison Arts + Education Project at Auburn University. Starting in 2001, she has worked to design and build an innovative and sustainable outreach program that works with the underserved adult prison population in Alabama. Stevens oversees all aspects of APAEP programming. She has served as a grants reviewer for the National Endowment for the Arts and the Alabama State Council on the Arts, was an inaugural member of an emerging arts administrators organization in Alabama, and works in advisory capacities nationally for individuals and programs seeking to develop arts and education programming within prisons. She is the fourth generation of her family to work in Outreach at Auburn University and was awarded an Auburn University Young Alumni Award for her efforts building APAEP. She was also an inaugural recipient of the Lillian E. Smith Writer in Service Award and continues to publish poems.

Jeanie Thompson has published five collections of poetry, The Myth of Water, Poems from the Life of Helen Keller (The University of Alabama Press, 2016), The Seasons Bear Us (River City Publishing, 2009), White for Harvest: New and Selected Poems (River City Publishing, 2001), Witness (Black Belt Press, 1995), and How to Enter the River (Holy Cow! Press, 1985), and three chapbooks. She co-edited The Remembered Gate: Memoirs by Alabama Writers, (University of Alabama Press, 2002) with Jay Lamar. Witness won a Benjamin Franklin Award from the Publishers Marketing Association in 1996. Her poems, interviews with writers, and critical articles have appeared in Antaeus, Crazyhorse, Ironwood, North American Review, New England Review, PoemMemoirStory (Nelle), Southern Review, The Louisville Review, and numerous anthologies. Jeanie holds the MFA from The University of Alabama, where she was founding editor of the literary journal Black Warrior Review. She also received her BA in English at UA. She has taught at the University of New Orleans, the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, and the poetry-in-the-schools program in New Orleans and in Alabama. Jeanie has received Individual Artist fellowships from the Louisiana State Arts Council and the Alabama State Council on the Arts and was a Walter Dakin Fellow at the Sewanee Writers Conference 2000. She teaches as an adjunct poetry faculty member in the Spalding University low-residency MFA Writing Program. (Photo taken by Jerry Siegel (c))

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