Hands, in the shape of a heart, enclosing the sky. A young girl, separated from the trees by a chain link fence. A promise of no more “sorrys”, “cause sorry never had an end.” This is the world shown in the photography and poetry of nine incarcerated young women who are trying to change their lives.

For ten weeks, the young women worked with Barry Shapiro, a photographer and graphic artist, and Cheryl Creel, a writer, to create artworks that combine poetry and photography into images that reflect their lives and their dreams. This art+poetry program was sponsored at Oak Creek by The Arts Center of Corvallis At-Risk Youth Art Education Program and coordinated through the Oregon Youth Authority.

All of the photographed images were taken inside the facility at Oak Creek by the young women. The poetry incorporated into the images, tells the stories of the their lives, of the paths that led to their incarceration and their dreams of finding a better path. “These are beautiful and powerful images and words, that tell us about these young women who are struggling to change their lives,” said Cheryl French, the Coordinator for the Arts Center’s At-Risk Youth Art Education Program.

The Arts Center’s At-Risk Youth Education Program is based on the belief that making art encourages children and youth to explore who they are, look carefully at the world around them and communicate those explorations in a positive way.  The program brings experienced teaching artists into low income schools, school programs aimed at at-risk students, youth drug and alcohol treatment programs, the Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility, and other institutions where children and youth can be found who do not have the opportunity to make art.

The Arts Center has been working with the Oregon Youth Authority at Oak Creek for several years, bringing art education programs to the young women incarcerated there.  The At-Risk Youth Art Education Program provides arts programming during school breaks, as well  as more intense small group programs, such as art+poetry, during school sessions.

The photography and poetry of these young women incarcerated at the Oak Creek Youth Correctional Facility in Albany was first shown at the Albany main library in April, 2013 and will be on display at Lunaria Gallery from October 4 – 28 with a reception on First Friday, October 4th, from 7:00 – 9:00 pm.  Lunaria, a member-owned artist, cooperative shares, “We are very happy to have the opportunity to share this unique and moving body of work in our gallery.”

Lunaria Gallery is located in downtown Silverton at 113 N Water Street.  For more information, visit: www.lunariagallery.com