News and HeadlinesIndianapolis Local NewsMonroe CountyBloomington


IU Prison Arts Initiative offers those incarcerated a creative outlet

Posted at 11:28 PM, Feb 03, 2023

BLOOMINGTON — Art as a way of healing: That’s the goal behind the Indiana University Prison Arts Initiative.

“I’m a strong believer in art is therapy for the soul," Larissa Danielle said.

The mixed-media artist is helping folks in prison express themselves.

“Helping them destress, helping them focus and just get into the creative process," she said.

She’s an instructor for the Indiana University Prison Arts Initiative (IUPAI).

IUPAI’s main goal is to send IU instructors into prisons to teach college-level courses in visual arts, creative writing, and bookmaking.

The exhibition at Bloomington City Hall features artwork from 10 students from the Putnamville Correctional Facility. The theme is 'Free to Wonder.'

“It prioritized their own expression, so we gave them constructive feedback to help them out but it was very much their own story and I think that’s why you see so much diversity in the exhibition — so many different perspectives so many different stories," Program Coordinator Oliver Nell said.

Nell says the course can be therapeutic for those who are incarcerated.

“In a setting that can be so difficult like a prison setting and all the things that go into that, to have something that you can truly get lost in…it’s an opportunity to empower them and value their perspective," he said.

The program began in fall of 2022 and as of now there’s only one class.

Nell hopes to expand in the future.

The IUPAI exhibition will be on display at Bloomington City Hall until February 17.