Pecenco, Laura (2015). “Paint in the Can: Creating Art and Doing Gender in Prison.” University of California, San Diego.

Pecenco, Laura (2015). “Paint in the Can: Creating Art and Doing Gender in Prison.” University of California, San Diego.

Author Affiliations: University of California, San Diego.
Artforms: Visual arts (mural making, painting, drawing, bookbinding, block printing), music
Program: Prison arts programs across California
Program (Study) Location: Adult medium/maximum correctional facility, Southern California (ethnography); California (interviews)
Program Description: The arts program that was the subject of this ethnography was created by the researcher/author. The class met twice per week for three hours at a time (a minimum of six hours per week) at the prison.
Study Published: 2015
Participant Type: Incarcerated and formerly incarcerated adult male participants, prison arts program instructors, former prison arts program instructors
Sample Size: 56 incarcerated individuals (participant observation), 52 interviewees (31 incarcerated and eight formerly incarcerated adult males and 13 prison arts program staff members), 264 publicly available artworks created by incarcerated artists
Data Type: Mixed qualitative methods: Ethnography/participant observation (450+ hours), in-depth interviews, content analysis
Study Design: This study was designed to “assess changes in personal growth, emotional balance, and increased self-expression over a periods of a year and a half” among inmates participating in the poetry program.
Evaluation Focus: Impact of participation in prison arts programs on performance of gender

Summary of Impact: Prison arts programs provide safer environments within the prison, allowing incarcerated participants to shed the hypermasculine imperative that is present in more public areas of the prison. Through the process of “artistization,” they adopt an alternative artist identity, which encourages protecting the arts program and growing as an artist via sharing supplies, thoughts and emotions across gender, racial, class, age, disability, sexual orientation and other boundaries.

KEYWORDS: adult, age, class, disability, gender hypermasculinity, hypermasculine imperative, identity, intersectionality, music, visual arts

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