Lessons from Prison: What I Learned Teaching Art History in Prison

By Nancy House.

Published by The International Journal of Arts Education

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Within a two-day period I was contacted, interviewed, and began teaching art history in a closed maximum security prison in the midwest. My students, all men, were within seven years of parole and were taking the Art History Survey course to fulfill their Bachelor degree requirements for an art course as well as an international studies course. This was a new experience for me, as I had never taught a population of one gender, nor had I had contact with a prison population. I continued to teach in the original prison as well as a nearby prison for six years. In that time, I taught many lessons in art history. I learned many lessons of my own, both big and small, during those six years. Some made me happy and some made me extremely sad. Art is not just taught in schools and museums. Because it is about life, it was applicable to the prison situation. This paper will describe the lessons I learned in prison and will discuss the importance of art to this population.

Keywords: Prison, Art History, Teaching

The International Journal of Arts Education, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp.43-48. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 238.770KB).

Dr. Nancy House

Art Education, College of Fine Arts and Communication, School of Art and Design, East Carolina University, E Lansing, Michigan, USA