"Crossing Fences: Prison Art Program" is a series of restorative art exhibitions designed for women in prisons, jails, and reentry facilities.

365 Foundation nonprofit seeking supplies, donations for art kits for incarcerated women

365 Foundation Crossing Fences.

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The United States imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation—currently more than 1.8 million. While more than 600,000 Americans are released from prisons annually, two-thirds are rearrested within three years. Each year, the nation spends over $80 billion to incarcerate and reincarcerate people. Beyond the financial impact, the cycle of crime and incarceration produces broken relationships, victimization, despair, and instability, impacting families and communities across the nation. Something isn’t working.

The 365 Foundation will work to restore America’s criminal justice system and those it affects. We aim to help women replace the cycle of trauma that landed them in prison. We advocate for justice reform and activate grassroots networks to do the same. We equip wardens to bring restorative change to their facilities.

Crossing Fences: Prison Art Program is a series of restorative art exhibitions designed for women in prisons, jails, and reentry facilities.

This initiative created by the 365 Foundation hopes to change lives by offering a rare opportunity for female incarcerated artists to exhibit their artwork every six months (twice a year). Still, this initiative is not just about art. It’s about understanding the unique challenges incarcerated women face, a crucial step toward promoting their well-being. The Prison Art Program exhibition is a new program under the 365 Foundations 2024-2025 initiative, Crossing Fences.

This program empowers women to acknowledge critical emotions and develop self-awareness through the lens of artistic expression. Through providing art supplies and guidance, we will encourage participants to look to the past for understanding—and look forward to a new beginning.

Two to three volunteers lead each exhibit and guide up to 20 participants through an art-therapy-based group discussion. Art is used as a tool to explore topics like vulnerability, shame, emotions, pride, empathy, and forgiveness. It is a visual expression of incarcerated individuals’ hope, strength, transformation, and dreams.

This program will collaborate with the prisons and be guided by the 365 Foundations Board of Directors. Prisons will choose participants, and once chosen, they will be encouraged to create whatever they feel compelled to share. We believe that all artwork created will help women share their voices, and communities will have an opportunity to hear from an often-forgotten population.

As defined by the American Art Therapy Association, “art therapy is founded on the belief that visual and symbolic expression gives voice to experience and empowers individual, communal and societal transformation.” This transformative power of art therapy is at the heart of our program, offering hope and a path to rehabilitation for incarcerated women.

This initiative and exhibition will seek to draw attention to the fact that women are the fastest-growing segment of the incarcerated population, increasing at nearly double the rate of men since 1985, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. It also speaks to the disproportionate impact on women of color; the ACLU states that Black women represent 30 percent of all incarcerated women nationally despite accounting for only 13 percent of the country’s female population. Hispanic women additionally represent 16 percent of incarcerated women and 11 percent of the country’s female population.

Women soon to be released from prison can also benefit from this Crossing Fences initiative, which will help them transition by focusing on the arts. By offering these women an opportunity to tap into their lived experiences from their past, art can turn that pain into beauty and change their futures. For women soon after being released from prison, this program can ease their transition by using art to increase confidence, open the doors to a career in art, and introduce them to a creative, supportive community.

The 365 Foundation aims to use this platform to raise funds for supplies needed to create and frame the artwork. The permitted supplies will then be shipped or brought to the prison, adhering to the facility’s strict guidelines.

Once the artwork is completed, the 365 Foundation will ship or pick up the pieces to exhibit at the 365 Foundation Art Gallery located at 305 West Main Street, Lansdale, Pennsylvania.

The 365 Foundation hopes to support the creativity and resourcefulness utilized in creating works that will speak directly to the unwavering resilience and steadfast hope of this group of incarcerated female artists. Artists will be encouraged to write a letter, displayed next to their work, to introduce themselves and share their story and what inspires them to create. The 365 Foundation aims to educate local communities that the power of art can change people and institutions.

The sale of any artwork will benefit organizations that help victims in the communities where these women have committed crimes. Upon their release, a portion will also go to the inmates to help them restart their lives.

We have also partnered with the Montgomery County Reentry Initiative and the Sunlight of the Spirit Women’s Home.

Donations made for this program will help support this program, which is designed to reduce recidivism and help create productive members of society.

Art is a way to self-introspection, a path to discovery and healing for many individuals. And if today’s data reflects that prison does not necessarily work in terms of rehabilitation—suggesting that a switch of criminal justice is needed—arts in prison are not only an escape for the mind but also a means to understand oneself and heal.

Supplies needed to make art kits for women in prison can be a powerful way to provide a creative outlet and means of self-expression.

Here is a list of art supplies we will need on a rotating basis, and we are seeking funding to purchase them.

Art Materials:

Drawing Supplies: Pencils, erasers, charcoal, pastels, sketchbooks, colored pencils.

Painting Supplies: Acrylic or watercolor paints, brushes, palettes, and canvas or paper.

Craft Supplies: Scissors, glue sticks, colored paper, markers, and other craft materials.

Clay and Sculpture Materials: Air-dry clay, sculpting tools, and armature wire.

Program-Specific Supplies:

Discussion Materials: Worksheets, discussion prompts, or reflection questions related to emotions, self-awareness, and personal growth.

Art Instruction Guides: Resources on different art techniques and styles.

Cost of shipping artwork to the gallery and supplies to the prisons, sober living homes, and reentry facilities.

Inspirational Content:

Print out inspiring quotes, poems, or images related to art. These can serve as prompts or encouragement.

Personal Touch:

Personalized note or letter to accompany the art kit. Let the women know that they are valued and supported.

Remember that each program may have specific needs based on its goals, curriculum, and participant preferences.

Final thought: Up to 90% of incarcerated people will come back into your community. Wouldn’t it be better to help them heal and provide creative outlets to work through their traumas that occurred before and during incarceration?

Donate to 365 Foundation's Prison Art Program here.


Press Release

Thursday, July 25, 2024




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