Peacework at NCCDC

Peacework at NCCDC

Armed with my laptop, a stack of magazines, a pad of tracing paper, and somewhat of a general idea of what form this session will take with the residents of New Castle County Detention Center, I enter the building. Aimee Ellis, the volunteer coordinator and Debbie Mellor the volunteer yoga teacher are already inside the locked doors. I am buzzed in, sign in, hand over my driver’s license and car keys, get “wanded” front and back and the 3 of us go behind the steel doors.

I am into month 2 of a 10 month residency at NCCDC through Peacework, a local non profit organization that works with abused, neglected or incarcerated children. Barbara Desjardins, a spry 80 year old angel of a woman is one of the founders  offering art, as well as yoga, gardening, and music to these kids. My residency is made possible by a first time generous grant from a local foundation.

Mandala in progress, foam stamp with marker at NCCDC

Mandala in progress, foam stamp with marker at NCCDC

6 weeks into my residency, I feel it taking form, slowly but surely. Our goal is to design and execute a mural on a large blank white cinderblock wall. I’m not able to take pictures but the process is being documented by staff at NCDCC and when I get them- I will share them.

Up to this point we have been working with different materials and processes. We’ve done painting and relief printmaking; rolling ink on the elaborate pattern found on the bottoms of their sneakers, and printing them in patterns in large circles they have drawn on brown craft paper. They became shields, like a family crest with bright primary colors in random or well thought out patterns and designs. We also created personal stamps and printing these unique symbols as mandalas-circles with patterns inside that represent the universe, or self.

Printmaking foam stamp

Mandala, foam printed personal stamps at NCCDC

Each session begins with yoga or a warm up exercise and we end in a circle with our work. There is insight and thoughtfulness as well as typical teenage bravado and kidding around. Some have shared that this is a time to forget about their problems. And they have many. These kids are in for serious crimes. However, I know the power of art-to heal, to create community, and to bring peace and beauty into our complicated lives, one workshop at a time.

Stay tuned.

12 Comments

  1. Linda M. Merry
    October 23, 2016

    Beautiful. Literally and figuratively.

    Reply
    • Nanci Hersh
      October 23, 2016

      Thank you Linda, it is a work in progress, and I am loving the opportunity.

      Reply
  2. Laurette Kovary
    October 24, 2016

    You are a positive force in their world. Awesome job. Well done. Art=peace.

    Reply
    • Nanci Hersh
      October 28, 2016

      As are you my dear, always inspiring as well. Namaste. xo

      Reply
  3. Cathy
    October 24, 2016

    What a wonderful project! I’m sure your students are so happy to be involved in it. They are doing wonderful work!
    Cathy

    Reply
    • Nanci Hersh
      October 27, 2016

      It is evolving Cathy, one week at a time. I am really loving the work and I believe they are getting something out of it. Happy with these kids is relative, trying to help them find value in who they are and what they do. Baby steps.

      Reply
  4. Amy smith
    October 25, 2016

    Nance, wow I had no IdeA! Would love for you to come talk to Ashley Biden at the Delaware Center for Justice- she and I are both passionate about advocacy for incarcerated youth, your time spent on healing art with these kiddos is outstanding!

    Reply
    • Nanci Hersh
      October 27, 2016

      I would love to meet with Ashley and you, Amy! thank you!

      Reply
  5. Michele Seagraves
    October 27, 2016

    There is such power in this simple exercise, Nanci.

    Reply
    • Nanci Hersh
      October 27, 2016

      Simplicity is a process, it’s taking what you know or what you think you know and allowing it to be unpacked to get to the heart of things. Thanks Michele!

      Reply
  6. Nadira Husain
    May 31, 2017

    So heartwarming and inspiring. I wished we lived closer to each other so I could be a part of all that you’re doing.

    Reply
    • Nanci Hersh
      May 31, 2017

      Thank you Nadira, you are a part of what I’m doing- your support and commitment to your work is all part of the bigger picture. xo

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Sign up for the perfect distraction
from this crazy & wonderful life!