A couple of years ago I was asked to go outside to a town outside Philly in Pennsylvania, to introduce an amazing film that was premiering, called Concrete, Steel and Paint. The film took us into the story of the most unusual mural making I had ever heard about– a collaboration in prison between victims of crime and criminals. Imagine murderers and those who'd lost a child or husband to murder making murals together? No, I couldn't either. I knew a lot about restorative justice — the idea of in some way making amends to those you've hurt, be it with group talk, facilitated conversation, service or money. But I wouldn't have imagined someone who killed a child and someone who lost her son painting together. That was this story. And Jane Golden began this marvelous mural program that has expanded and multiplied. Read more about it and how it fulfills the idea of restorative justice at the website, here.
The film was, of course, about healing and I was transfixed watching it, questioning the amazing collision of punishment, remorse and forgiveness. As the filmmakers, Cindy Burstein and Tony Huriza, write on their website about the process where prisoners come together, talk and work with those who have experienced crime,"Finding consensus is not easy – but as the participants move through the creative process, mistrust gives way to surprising moments of human contact and common purpose."
Because of working behind bars directing plays in prison, I have long known the healing power of art but to see the healing power of ART is incredibly exciting. Here's a mural created by prisoners:
And here's one created by victims of crime:
Can you imagine these on nearby buildings? If you want to see a glorious version, you'll have to go to Philly but I am happy with this take: http://explorer.muralarts.org/#/mural/healing_walls.