(Bottom) a splayed-wall image of the full 120’x 14’ mural In Kingston Maximum Security Penitentiary and close-ups showing scale.
“The Eagle and the Phoenix”
R. Mackeen, B. Fenn, G. Nakagawa, A. Labignan, A. Parada & D. Ostrom
Spray-paint and acrylic, 2003.
Role: Project Design, Coordinator
“I think it’s something good. gets people sitting down and talking. it’s just as good as anger management or cognitive therapy. We need more hands on things.”
– R.T.C. Staff, 2003
“Beautiful calm colors. Swans are magnificent. So real. It was like stepping into a movie. Unbelievable to its realness. To help the inmates with wellness, we need more of these paintings.”
– R.T.C. Inmate-patient, 2003
This mural was completed in Kingston Maximum Penitentiary, Regional Treatment Centre. The 36.50 x 4.25 m work was painted by a diverse group of young artists and located in the gymnasium used by the offender-patients. It was designed by means of an intensive and lengthy democratic process in order to maximize creative participation from the patients and staff. The pilot project was followed by a collaborative evaluation measuring outcomes such as attendance levels, behaviour, satisfaction and the impact of the process vs. the art piece itself.
Preliminary results, as assessed by onsite medical staff and inmates, point to a significant increase in quality of life, as well as multiple other positive outcomes. For example, the inmate-patients created three murals of their own after-wards. There was also an increase of pro-social interaction and increased attendance to the gym. This is important as exercise is critical to the mental and physical health of heavily medicated / schizophrenic patients. The inmate-patients also started to send photographs of themselves back to their families since they now had a non-prison backdrop. This development was important because connections to the outside world can be a major determinant in commitment to treatment and recidivism.