With her permission, I’m passing along this note from Jakki Cafarelli, a young woman I met last summer outside the Kansas City Art Institute.  The postcards from the experience she describes below were displayed at a gallery in K.C., and will be amongst the many stories shared in the final version of the Spaces Project.

As an intern with Arts in Prison, Inc., I worked with youth in the Johnson and Wyandotte County detention Centers in Kansas City, Kansas and Missouri, teaching young adolescents new forms of expression.  Hoping to provide encouragement and to inspire confidence, I encouraged young teenage boys and girls to experiment with different mediums, focusing on developing self-esteem and creative problem solving. Upon meeting you outside of the Kansas City Art Institute, I was immediately excited and inspired by the Spaces Between Your Fingers project. I was thrilled to introduce the project to my students the following week. I thought I would read the story to them, as I explained the project guidelines. 
Well, being juvenile delinquents, it’s not easy to get 12 teenage boys focused on a project and listen to a story, so I waited until they were finished outlining their hands and coloring gold trimmed watches and diamonds surrounded by slogans and mottos on the postcards. We all sat in a circle as I read the story. The security guards in the room sat in the circle as well (the first time they were positively engaged in a session). Subsequent to the story, the kids opened up. They began telling stories of their grandfathers and loved ones. For the last thirty minutes of a two hour session went by, for once, too quickly. Usually, these adolescents hold a tough guard up, but that day it was let down. Young men, some who are fathers, murders, and mistake-makers along with myself and two security guards all shared a bond discussing the evolution of life and letting people go.
The halls seemed a lot quieter as they walked out of the room, hands behind their backs. I felt that day had impacted every single person in the room. which is an intensely powerful feeling- to get through to that many kids who usually still don’t give a rat’s ass about art or me after I sit with them for two hours. They’d rather spend the time drawing their next tattoo they’re going to get once they leave Juvy.

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