Arts-Based Workshops

Valuing Creative Voices

Through creative writing, theatre and other arts workshops, we build collaborative communities that serve as spaces for therapeutic healing and innovative thinking. Our workshops range from six to 40 sessions across 11 facilities within the Colorado Department of Corrections: Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center, Denver Women's Correctional Facility, Sterling Correctional Facility, Limon Correctional Facility, Buena Vista Correctional Facility, Four Mile Correctional Facility, Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility, Fremont Correctional Facility, La Vista Correctional Facility, Colorado State Penitentiary and Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility.

Our Creative Work

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Arts throughout all of the history of humanity have given us the human experience in a way that can be felt. We can feel each other's emotions that way. And I think through bringing that into prison it's allowing other people to heal who have never had an opportunity to.

DU PAI Incarcerated Participant

Current Creative Projects

  • Sterling Correctional Facility

    If Light Closed Its Eyes; With(in); Reverberations; Inside Wire: Colorado Prison Radio; 12-Week Course: “Creating (in) Place: A Visual Arts and/or Writing Workshop”

    Incarcerated students are the driving force behind our interview-based theatre play, "If Light Closed Its Eyes"; our podcast, "With(in)"; the literary magazine, "Reverberations"; and the 12-week course, “Creating (in) Place: A Visual Arts and/or Writing Workshop”. Sterling is also a studio location for DU PAI's statewide radio station, Inside Wire: Colorado Prison Radio.

  • Limon Correctional Facility

    Inside Wire: Colorado Prison Radio; Production of Antigone; 12-Week Course: “Moving Meditations: Intro to Dance and Choreography”

    Limon is the hub studio for DU PAI's statewide radio station, Inside Wire. Limon's production of the classic tragedy, "Antigone," includes an in-house band. The 12-week course, “Moving Meditations: Intro to Dance and Choreography” begins late-April.

  • Denver Women's Correctional Facility

    Inside Wire: Colorado Prison Radio

    A studio location for DU PAI's statewide radio station, Inside Wire: Colorado Prison Radio.

  • Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center

    Intro to Improvisation

    "Intro to Improvisation" is taught by Kerstin Caldwell and is a 12-week course.

  • La Vista Correctional Facility

    Universe Within

    Universe Within is a devised theatre and playwriting project based on our Arts in Society grant "Sojourn: The Search."

  • Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility

    Introduction to Theatre Practices

    This 12-week workshop is taught by Clare Hammoor.

  • Four Mile Correctional Facility

    Foundations of Performance and Public Speaking

    A 12-week course taught by Jessie Datino.

  • Fremont Correctional Facility

    The Inside Report; Introduction to Art Making

    "The Inside Report" is our Colorado Department of Corrections statewide newspaper. The 12-week, "Introduction to Art Making" course is taught be Molly Ott.

  • Buena Vista Correctional Facility

    Introduction to Art Making

    This 12-week workshop is taught by Molly Ott.

  • Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility

    The Right to Speak: Finding Your True Voice

    Luciann Lajoie teaches this 12-week course.

  • Colorado State Penitentiary

    Introduction to Theatre Practices

    This 12-week course cultivates curiosity through games, improvisation and movement exercises that are honest, fun, thoughtful and invigorating.

  • COVID-19 Response/Virtual Offerings 2020-2021

    Imagining Worlds, Tell It Slant, Learning to See through Drawing

    The Imagining Worlds workshop offers a brief survey of dramatic literature (plays), including modern 20th century plays and contemporary 21st century plays. Participants are asked to respond creatively to each of these readings, engaging their senses and intuition. They are given an introduction to the building blocks of theatre, play reading and playwriting so that they may build a foundation of knowledge for how to critically read and respond to plays. We hope students will be able to apply these concepts to their own creative work, beyond the scope of dramatic literature.

    This course also supports participants in developing critical life skills such as reading and analyzing complex texts, putting their intuitive and affective responses to creative texts into language, writing critically and creatively, committing to a long-term goal, and solving problems independently.

    Imagining Worlds culminates with a selection of the students' original plays printed in an anthology that will be gifted to them and made available to the public, as well as featured in DU PAI's fall virtual showcase.

    The Tell It Slant: Reading & Writing Creative Nonfiction workshop offers an exploration of creative nonfiction, one of the fastest-growing forms of writing in literature. Creative nonfiction can be an essay, a journal article, a research paper, a memoir, a recipe or a poem; it can be personal or not, or it can be any or all of these combined.

    Because creative writing involves both creativity and scholarship, coursework includes critical analysis of student and published writing; forming aesthetic judgments about creative nonfiction; writing and revising creative nonfiction; form and technique in creative nonfiction; and responding to the creative work of classmates in a writing community.

    Tell It Slant will support participants in developing critical life skills such as reading and analyzing complex texts, putting their intuitive and affective responses to creative texts into language, writing critically and creatively, committing to a long-term goal and solving problems independently.

    The DU Prison Arts Initiative works closely with the University of Denver’s college of continuing and professional studies, University College, to explore possibilities for collaboration. Within University College, the Center for Professional Development (CPD) is designed to help lifelong learners develop new skills and refresh existing proficiencies so students can advance their careers. DU PAI is pleased to announce that for the first time, the course Tell It Slant: Reading & Writing Creative Nonfiction will be eligible for Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Continuing Education Units are transcripted, non-credit bearing units that we hope to continue to offer to participants for culmination in a professional certificate signed by the dean of University College. CEUs help participants provide evidence of learning for college and employment applications. We’re inspired to be working with these partners at DU that are passionate about making learning accessible to all, and hope our collaboration with University College and the Center for Professional Development continues to expand and deepen.

    Learning to See Through Drawing offers participants the opportunity to learn or build upon basic drawing skills to explore how the activity of drawing both changes how we see the world and offers opportunities for self-expression. This course is available to those with minimal drawing experience or extensive drawing experienceall are welcome to explore these drawing techniques and reflective processes.

    Each week, participants are introduced to new drawing concepts, including contour lines, line weight, value, contrast, gradation, perspective, color theory and more. Students explore still-life subjects, interiors, portraiture and abstraction, and they are guided through this process via video lectures and information provided in course packets. Additionally, each week participants are asked to reflect on their process of drawing and creation through prompted journaling. Participants are also asked to explore the topics in this class further by completing readings and assignments.

    This course is meant to provide space for exploration of the self and the students' surroundings in a way that feels comfortable. Assignments and reflections can be taken literally or figuratively, but all ask participants to engage in focused and deep-seeing self-reflection and self-expression. This course supports students in developing and practicing self-awareness, emotional expression, creativity and hands-on artistic skills.

    A mural of Learning to See Through Drawing exercises were showcased at the DU Community Commons Gallery in September 2021.

Past Creative Projects

  • Sterling Correctional Facility
    • Creating Action through Words and Movement (Fall 2019)
    • Ensemble Theatre Workshop (Winter-Summer 2019)
    • Play Production of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (Winter-Summer 2019)
    • The History of Photography Workshop (Winter-Summer 2019)
  • Limon Correctional Facility
    • The Right to Speak: Finding Your True Voice (Fall 2021)
    • Ensemble Theatre (Fall 2019)
  • Denver Women's Correctional Facility
    • The Building Blocks of Musical Theatre (Fall 2021)
    • Let the Lit Move You: Movement & Literature (Winter 2020)
    • Production of "A Christmas Carol" (Fall 2019)
    • Arts and Spirituality Workshop (Winter-Summer 2019)
    • Short Play Workshop (Winter-Summer 2019)
    • Production of "A Christmas Carol" (Winter-Summer 2019)
    • Ensemble Theatre (Summer-Fall 2018)
  • Denver Reception and Diagnostic Center
    • Collective Care: Finding Freedom & Joy through Movement (Fall 2021)
    • Unpacking Story: Playwriting & Scene Study (Winter 2020)
    • Creating Action Through Words and Movement (Fall 2019)
    • Movement and Creative Writing (Winter-Summer 2019)
    • Theatre Devising Workshop (Winter-Summer 2019)
    • Playwriting Workshop (Winter-Spring 2018)
  • La Vista Correctional Facility
    • Introduction to Art-Making Practices (Fall 2021)
    • Ensemble Theatre (Winter 2020)
    • Writing the Breath (Fall 2019)
  • Colorado Territorial Correctional Facility
    • Exploring Improvisation (Fall 2021)
    • Portable Magic: A Book Discussion Workshop (Winter 2020)
    • Ensemble Theatre (Fall 2019)
  • Four Mile Correctional Facility
    • Introduction to Art-Making Practices (Fall 2021)
    • Ensemble Theatre (Winter 2020)
    • Portable Magic: A Book Discussion Workshop (Fall 2019)
  • Fremont Correctional Facility
    • Introduction to Journalism (Fall 2021)
    • Writing the Breath (Winter 2020)
    • Improvisation Lab (Fall 2019)
  • Buena Vista Correctional Facility
    • To Rhyme or not to Rhyme: Questioning and Writing Poetry (Fall 2021)
    • Restorative Justice & Performance Inside Out College Course (Spring 2021)
    • Ensemble Theatre (Fall 2019)
  • Arkansas Valley Correctional Facility
    • Introduction to Theatre Practices (Fall 2021)
  • Colorado State Penitentiary
    • Introduction to Theatre Practices (Fall 2021)
  • Colorado Correctional Center (Camp George West)
    • Family Events (Fall 2019)
    • Creative Writing Workshop (Winter-Summer 2019)
    • Re-Entry through Theatre (Winter-Summer 2019)
    • Non-Fiction Writing (Winter-Summer 2019)
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