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  • Alessandra Rizzotti
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bring more art into our prison systems.

Rachel Biel

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Everywhere

Fine Cell Work is a social enterprise in the UK that works with inmates, using embroidery and quilt work to help them earn income and heal. The process of stitching away in a cell has brought self-awareness, self-respect and a sense of community. They have created a successful model that should be replicated elsewhere. It's inspiring and beautiful!

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  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    So cool to see these men empowered by arts and crafts- and that it helps them reduce stress. Really great organization. Wondering if there are any other orgs like these?

    • Rachel Biel

      Yes, I have seen other efforts over the years to bring crafts into prisons, some informal and some that also have an income generating approach, but Fine Cell Work is the best that I've seen in terms of creating a product that can truly be marketed to high end designers like this.

      I make bags out of dog food wrappers and I originally learned about them through outsider art circles which documented art purses and sculptures made out of cigarette wrappers in the 50's.

      I know that when I am doing embroidery or making something with my hands, I zone into a really peaceful place and I can imagine how having something like this to pass away the hours in prison must be so comforting and liberating. I just really admire what they are doing! Especially when our own prisons are so awful and our culture had become so violent.

      I haven't looked at the stats in awhile, but I believe we are the 4th country with the most executions and have one of the largest populations in prison, mostly minorities. So, whatever we are doing is NOT working.

      I've toyed with an income generating project for my local area, working with low income women and when I was looking into it, a local pastor has been active with a program that re-integrates prisoners after they are released. I would love to work with something like that, but am too stretched with my current projects. Maybe down the road it will still happen. It's certainly always tickling away at my brain... :)