During a month-long RESIDENCY over Summer Break, local teaching artist Lesley Anne Numbers worked with teens at the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center to transform a long wall in the narrow hallway between visitation and lockdown. Lesley was joined by Lauden Nute, one of her students at Madison College.
Lesley and Lauden came in on a Thursday afternoon in August in order to present the concept of mural design and to generate ideas and themes with teen residents. After a brief introduction to themselves and their trajectory as an learner and artist, Lesley and Lauden laid some basic groundwork by working with the group to better define the hallway between visitation and lock down. Then they then handed out markers and a stack of note cards to each teen and court officers, and began asking basic questions about how they experience that hallway through their 5 senses before, during and after walking from lock down towards visitation, and vice versa. Lesley and Lauden took individual notes but also collected all of the note cards, and took them home in order use these responses while designing the mural on a laptop.
The following week, Lesley and Lauden came back to the facility where they showed a draft design to both the teen residents and the detention administrators and staff to offer feedback and move on to the next step. Over the next 3 weeks, the teens used pencils and marker to transfer the design to the wall, and then paint and outline the entire design. Due to the nature of the facility, teen residents are only housed on a temporary basis so there were some kids that took part in every session, but also kids that were only there for the beginning or the end of the project.
Be sure to check out some of the other Making Justice Residencies.