Transforming Women's Lives Through Art in Prison
What if women in prison could tap into their past and change their future? What if art could turn pain into beauty?
Create: New Beginnings® is a series of restorative art workshops designed for women in prisons, jails, and reentry facilities. Rooted in Scripture and the core values of the Prison Fellowship Academy®, this program empowers women to acknowledge critical emotions and develop self-awareness through the lens of artistic expression. Through 10 simple art workshops, participants look to the past for understanding—and look forward to a new beginning.
Led by two to three volunteers, each two-hour workshop guides up to 30 participants through a biblically based group discussion, using art as a tool to explore topics like vulnerability, shame, emotions, pride, empathy, and forgiveness.
Since 2019, Create: New Beginnings has engaged 120 volunteers and Prison Fellowship staff to serve more than 1,500 women. Currently active in 12 states from Alaska to Florida, the program has 30 active workshops reaching more than 400 women each week. We have also partnered with the Salvation Army and are active in nine of their Adult Rehabilitation Centers.
Most recently, Prison Fellowship partnered with Tyndale House Publishing to make Create: New Beginnings available to women outside of prison. The book is set to release in November 2023.
Women living in prison often feel isolated and alone. In general, they have much less communication with one another and fewer visitations with their families and spouses than men living in prison. We quickly began to realize that Create: New Beginnings would provide the safe space they need to discuss topics that are often taboo in prison culture, such as sources of shame and self-doubt. Create: New Beginnings also emphasizes the importance of healthy relationships and creates an environment where women can be open and vulnerable with one another.
"I have never discussed my abuse much before, but I realize through this art that I have been in this dark place all these years. Doing this art project has helped me to see that I can be in a better place, a brighter place, and that’s what I want to work towards."
- Program Participant, Minnesota
"I recognized that I hold on to a lot of unforgiveness. It was kind of hard, and kind of scary to look at that, but I see that is necessary if I want to be better"
- Program Participant, California